Jacqueline Flett is a business lawyer practicing in Victoria, BC.
Employers, be aware: fresh law in effect in BC this month takes aim at the gender pay gap, and also imposes significant obligations on BC employers.
In 2022, women in B.C. earned 17% less than men. This pay gap disproportionately impacted Indigenous women, women of colour, and immigrant women, as well as women with disabilities and non-binary people. In response, the BC government has enacted the Pay Transparency Act to put responsibility on employers to address systemic discrimination in the workplace, specifically in the areas of pay transparency and the gender pay gap.
New Requirements for ALL Employers in BC
As of November 1, 2023, BC employers are required to specify the expected salary or wage for any publicly advertised job opportunity. This requirement does not apply to general “Help Wanted” posters or recruitment campaigns that don’t advertise a specific opportunity. However, in all other cases, public job advertisements in BC must include an expected salary or wage, although a range (for example, a range based on experience and education) is also acceptable.
Under the new legislation, employers are not permitted to ask employees what they have been paid by previous employers (although they may use publicly accessible information for similar positions, as well as information they already have about that employee to determine pay for the new position). Employers are also not permitted to implement any policies that prevent employees from discussing or disclosing their wages with their colleagues.
Plus, New Annual Transparency Requirements for 50+ Employees
In addition, and as part of the ongoing efforts to create pay transparency, provincially regulated employees in organizations above a certain size will be required to complete and post a pay transparency report on all their B.C employees by November 1st of each year. This requirement will roll out in stages as follows:
- By November 1, 2024: all employers with 1,000 employees or more will be required to begin posting annual pay transparency reports
- By November 1, 2025: all employers with 300 employees or more will be required to begin posting annual pay transparency reports
- By November 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees or more will be required to begin posting annual pay transparency reports
An online reporting tool is currently in development to assist employers in preparing the report.
Plus, There’s a New Complaint Mechanism
The Pay Transparency Act establishes a complaint mechanism for employees who believe they have experienced wage discrimination. Employees can file complaints with the BC Employment Standards Branch, which will investigate the matter and take appropriate action if necessary. Employers found to be in violation of the Act may face penalties, including fines and potential legal action.
While the purposes of the new legislation are laudable in the name of equity, compliance with the legislation will undoubtedly come with growing pains for employers. If you would benefit from assistance in understanding the applicability of the new obligations created under the Pay Transparency Act to your business, and/or assistance in meeting them, Breakwater Law lawyers would be delighted to work with you.