Howard Levitt: Pay transparency legislation a step in the right direction, says owner of The Morrissey House
The owner of The Morrissey House is pleased to see new pay transparency legislation introduced on Tuesday to continue an important conversation about the gender wage gap.
Mark Sarré has addressed the gap in his own business; for the past eight weeks, he’s offered a 13 per cent discount to women on Mondays, based on a 2015 report from Statistics Canada that says women are paid 87 cents to every dollar earned by men.
But the different components of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s proposed bill aren’t without fault, he says.
While he already posts a salary rate with his job postings, Sarré says a requirement that all publically advertised job listings include a salary range means women or minorities may still find themselves on the lower end of the range.
“I used to work for a company that had bands of wages,” he explained.
“You could be paid anywhere between that $30,000 to $40,000 range depending on your responsibilities, and your experience, and all the rest of it. But inevitably, the men were at the higher end of that band than the women were.”
But by posting that range, Sarré says potential employees will at least know whether a job is worth applying for, and where a potential offer falls on the range.
The legislation would also eventually require companies to track and record compensation information that includes gender and diversity characteristics. Those details would need to be sent to the government, and posted in a common workplace area.
While one Toronto-based employment lawyer says that infringes on a person’s privacy, Sarré told 980 CFPL that sunshine lists already serve a similar function.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I don’t think having more information could cause more issues.”
But Howard Levitt, with the firm Levitt LLP in Toronto, says companies and employees alike will be enraged if the bill passes through the legislature.
“This is just another example of a government in its death-rows, virtue-signalling, hoping to get votes,” he said.
Levitt says employees’ privacy rights would be impacted, and that barring employers from asking about past compensation limits competition.
“It creates an impediment to getting relevant information, and it is relevant information, what someone is making now. If someone’s making $50,000 and they want to get $95,000, they’re entitled to $95,000, they might be able to justify $95,000, and they’ll be hired at $95,000… [but] you wonder why the previous employer hasn’t paid you more than $50,000.”
But Sarré says he doesn’t care what a potential hire was getting paid before interviewing for a position at his establishment.
“It’s my business, it’s my structure, it’s my costs, so if I can afford to give you $20 an hour, and you’re worth the $20 an hour to me, and you ease my mind because I don’t have to worry about things when I’m not here… because I’ve created a pay structure that you’re happy with.”
Sarré added that he’d like to see similar legislation that seeks to close the gender wage gap implemented on a federal level.