“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.
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.