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Employers in British Columbia are now required to include salary or wage information in all public job postings.
The change came into force on Nov. 1 as the provincial government enacted the Pay Transparency Act, which is aimed at closing the gender pay gap.
“People deserve equal pay for equal work,” said Kelli Paddon, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for gender equity, in a news release from the province.
“Making sure transparent wage or salary information is included in all job posting helps make sure people are being offered the same pay for the same work.”
B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains said that the new law, along with other measures recently taken by the government including raising the provincial minimum wage, “brings us closer to closing the gender pay gap.”
The legislation also aims to end the practice of employers asking prospective employees about their pay history or punishing employees who disclose their pay to potential job applicants.
PAY GAP PERSISTS DESPITE PROGRESS
The B.C. government said progress has been made recently in addressing gender pay equality, but the gap between men and women is still significant.
“While improvements to the pay gap can be seen in recent years, according to Statistics Canada, women in B.C. are paid 17 per cent less than men,” the province said in the release.
Nationally, the gender pay gap is virtually the same, accounting for a 17.1 per cent difference between the annual median earnings of women and men, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In the OECD’s ranking of more than three dozen countries world-wide, Canada currently has the sixth-worst gender pay gap.
The pay gap in B.C., meanwhile, “disproportionately impacts Indigenous women, women from visible minorities and immigrant women,” the province added in the release, noting that it likely also affects people “all along the gender continuum,” including non-binary, transgender and two-spirit people.
The government said that with that in mind, its goal is to make sure its analysis of the pay gap goes beyond the gender binary, becoming the “first jurisdiction in Canada to take this approach.”
‘POSITIVE FIRST STEP’
Sloan Vereecken, director at large of the B.C. advocacy group Women of Recreation, Tourism & Hospitality (WORTH), called the new legislation a “positive first step” towards more equitable industries.
“As our sector faces a labour crisis, we believe this measure will attract and retain more women ensuring they are paid fairly for their work,” she said in the release.
“Pay transparency in B.C. will also help rectify historical wage disparities and empower women to negotiate for fair pay, fostering a more equitable work environment.”
PENALTIES FOR NONCOMPLIANCE
Currently, the Pay Transparency Act itself doesn’t set out penalties for noncompliant employers, according to Dentons.
“It also does not designate a particular body, such as the Employment Standards Branch, to investigate or discipline employers, so it is unclear what enforcement of the act may look like,” the law firm said in a July website post.
“Despite the lack of enforcement provisions under the act, there are existing pay equity protections for employees under section 12 of the Human Rights Code, which prohibit employers from discriminating in wages between similarly positioned employees on the basis of sex.”
DEMAND FOR TRANSPARENCY
The implementation of the legislation comes as workers across Canada are increasingly seeking pay transparency from potential employers.
Recent survey data from human resources consulting firm Robert Half found that half of Canada’s professionals now expect companies to disclose salary ranges in job postings.
Additionally, the firm found that almost two-thirds of survey respondents said they would take themselves out of consideration for a job if an employer declined to provide salary or wage information upon request.
When asked about their biggest frustration in the hiring process, the most common response among surveyed professionals was a lack of transparency about salary and benefits, according to Robert Half.