Ontario Introduces "Pay Transparency" Legislation

If passed, the bill will require certain employers to track and publish information about compensation in their organization

On March 6, Ontario introduced "Then Now Next: Ontario's Strategy for Women's Economic Empowerment," which includes the introduction of a proposed "pay transparency" bill. The strategy sets out a three-year plan to increase gender equity, and makes numerous recommendations for removing the gender wage gap in the province. If passed, the legislation will have significant implications for employers in Ontario, and Ontario will become the first province in Canada to legislate pay transparency. Below we provide an overview of the proposed legislation, which is not yet publicly available.

What You Need To Know

  • Increasing pay transparency: The bill will require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range, prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their past compensation and prohibit reprisals against employees who discuss or disclose compensation.
  • Requiring employers to report compensation gaps: The bill will also establish a framework to require larger employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics, publicly post that information in the workplace and disclose it to the province. The characteristics that employers will be required to record and report in addition to gender will be determined through consultation.
  • Phasing in disclosure measures: The province's disclosure measures will begin with the Ontario Public Service before applying to employers with more than 500 employees, and subsequently to employers with more than 250 employees.

The strategy builds on existing government efforts to improve gender equality for women, including: the recent addition to the Ontario Employment Standards Act of a new workplace leave of up to 17 weeks for survivors of domestic or sexual violence; the January 1, 2018 increase in the general minimum wage to $14 per hour; the province's plan to create additional child care spaces; and the introduction of "It's Never Okay," Ontario's action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment.

The strategy will also include initiatives to advocate for further enhancements to parental benefit entitlements, reinforce measures to promote women in corporate leadership, increase women's access to training and mentorship opportunities, increase support for women entrepreneurs and expand women's centres.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the proposed legislation and provide information on any further updates.

To discuss these issues, please contact the author(s).

This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

For permission to republish this or any other publication, contact Janelle Weed.

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