Pay Equity

What Are my Legal Obligations Under Pay Equity Legislation?

“Equal pay for equal work” is a battle cry that’s been heard for years. Employers ought to know their legal obligations regarding pay equity, and what to do to ensure they are complying.

Broadly speaking, pay equity laws require employers to provide “equal pay for equal work” to employees working in the same establishment. These laws are designed to prevent employers from paying certain employees less than others based on discriminatory reasons.

Provincial and Federal laws specifically require employers to provide equal pay for equal work. Because pay equity is an anti-discriminatory measure, pay equity violations are also prohibited under human rights legislation.

What Does “Equal Pay for Equal Work” Mean, Exactly?

The actual requirements under pay equity laws are subtle. Employers should seek advice from an employment lawyer to ensure that they are not inadvertently violating their legal obligations regarding pay equity.

The definition of “equal pay for equal work” depends on the specific law that applies. For example, in Ontario the Pay Equity Act requires women and men to be paid equally for jobs that are different but of equal value to their employer. On the other hand, the Employment Standards Act requires equal pay for men and women performing a job with substantially the same skill, effort, and level of responsibility in the same establishment.

Pay does not only refer to wages – it can refer to benefits, bonus, and other forms of compensation as well.

What are the Consequences for Non-Compliance with Pay Equity Laws?

Ensuring compliance with pay equity makes economic sense for employers. If an employer is found to be contravening pay equity legislation, they may be ordered to pay the difference, plus interest.

In some cases, however, employers will be exposed to much more than the difference in pay. In Ontario, for example, employers may be forced to defend against pay equity claims at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, or even in court, where the employee has claimed constructive dismissal. In each case, the court or tribunal has jurisdiction to award damages, costs, and interest over and above the amount that should have been paid.

Of course, not all claims for pay equity have merit, and employers have the right to defend themselves against frivolous or misguided pay equity claims. Our employment lawyers will use their expertise to guide you through every step of the process—contact us today.

Why Choose Employment Lawyers at Levitt LLP?

Our employment lawyers at Levitt LLP are experts in employment law in Toronto, the GTA and across Canada.

Our employment lawyers have the knowledge and expertise needed to assess pay equity compliance, and to negotiate and litigate pay equity issues. Our employment lawyers can help you protect your company against pay equity claims.

Schedule a consultation today with one of our employment lawyers in Toronto, the GTA or across Canada to learn about your options.


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