Equal Pay for Equal Work: Celebrating International Women’s Day

Peninsula Team

February 28 2020

On March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates women around the world and the progress that has been made in gender equality. Women have many roles – as mothers, daughters, sisters and also as workers, among others. The contributions of women to society are evident and while great progress has been made in the last century, more work needs to be done.

According to Statistics Canada, the wage gap has decreased from 18.8% percent in 1998 to 13.3% in 2018. Part of the gap remains unexplained, with possible explanations being work experience and gender-related biases.

To prevent the latter from influencing employers’ decisions throughout all stages of employment, provincial legislation forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.

Human Rights Legislation

Each Canadian province has Human Rights legislation that forbids discrimination in employment on the basis of several protected grounds, including sex, gender identity, gender expression, family status and marital status. Employers may not make employment decisions, such as hiring or termination, based on reasons relating to these protected grounds. Failure to comply may result in a human rights complaint, fines and other consequences.

Employment Standards Legislation

Provincial employment standards legislation works to eliminate the wage gap by requiring equal pay for equal work. This means employers cannot, with certain exceptions, pay one employee less on the basis of sex than they pay another employee for the same work. Exceptions to equal pay for equal work include a seniority system, a merit system and a system that measures earnings by the quantity or quality of production.

Same work is defined as work that is substantially the same, requires the same skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under the same conditions in the workplace. “Substantially the same work” means that the work does not have to be exactly the same.

Employers cannot decrease an employees pay in order to create equal pay for equal work.

Do you have further questions about equal pay for equal work?

Some provinces have additional legislation, such as Ontario’s Pay Equity Act, which also requires employers to fulfill certain obligations in relation to equal pay for equal work. To ensure your business is complying with all applicable legislation, contact our HR experts today: 1 (833) 247-3652.

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