In recent years, the issue of pay equity has taken center stage in the global business landscape. As society becomes increasingly aware of disparities in compensation based on gender, race, and other factors, governments are enacting legislation to promote pay transparency and address these inequalities. British Columbia is no exception.
BC’s Pay Transparency Act (the “Act”), introduced on May 11, 2023, is a transformative piece of legislation that fundamentally reshapes how businesses conduct themselves with job candidates and the public.
In this blog post, we provide a basic overview of the Pay Transparency Act and explore how it provides a distinct advantage to progressive companies who create and follow equitable business policies.
Salary Range Disclosure: Beginning November 1, 2023, all employers in B.C. must include the expected pay or the expected pay range for a specific job opportunity that they advertise publicly. This provision aims to provide job seekers with clear information about the potential salary for the position. By mandating the disclosure of salary ranges in job postings, a limit is placed on the ambiguity that surrounds compensation negotiations. The aim is to inject greater objectivity into the hiring process so that employees have a better chance of attaining compensation commensurate with their qualifications.
Prohibition of Salary History Inquiries: Effective immediately, employers are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s salary history during the hiring process unless the information in publicly accessible. This restriction is intended to break the cycle of pay inequity that can persist when employees’ past salaries are used as a basis for new job offers.
Reprisal Prohibited: Employees are able to freely exchange information about their salaries and hold their employer accountable to the Act. An employer must not dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee, or threaten to do so, because the employee
- (a) made inquiries to the employer about the employee’s pay,
- (b) disclosed information about the employee’s pay to another employee of the employer or to an individual who has applied for employment with the employer,
- (c) made inquiries to the employer about a pay transparency report or information contained in a pay transparency report,
- (d) asked the employer to comply with the employer’s obligations under this Act, or
- (e) made a report to the director in relation to the employer’s compliance with the employer’s obligations under this Act.
Pay Transparency Reports: There is nowhere left to hide. If pay inequities exist within companies above a certain size, the reporting requirements of the Act ensure that pay inequities will be viewable to the public eventually, in one way or another. Employers above a certain size will be required to complete and post pay transparency reports by November 1st of each year on their website if it exists. If a company does not have a website, the company will be required to post the report in a conspicuous place in the workplace and provide copies to members of the public upon request.
Among other requirements, these reports must include the gaps in pay between men, women, and non-binary employees. Employees will have the option to decline to provide their gender to their employer for the purposes of the report and can voluntarily update their gender information annually.
The requirement to complete and post the reports will be introduced in stages and effect businesses differently according to the size of their workforce. Employers will need to start collecting data and seeking advice to ensure compliance well in advance of their applicable deadline:
- Nov. 1, 2023: BC Public Service Agency and Crown corporations with more than 1,000 employees (ICBC, BC Hydro, WorkSafeBC, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corporation and BC Transit).
- Nov. 1, 2024 – employers with 1,000 employees or more
- Nov. 1, 2025 – employers with 300 employees or more
- Nov. 1, 2026 – employers with 50 employees or more
Advantages for Progressive Businesses
Progressive businesses have long been champions of fair practices. Equity and fairness are not simply buzzwords–they are core values. Once pay transparency reports are published, it will become apparent to investors, consumers, and employees which businesses have been committed to equitable pay practices and which ones could use a little help getting there. By showcasing their commitment to fair compensation and equitable policies, businesses can use their reports to enhance their brand image, build trust, and attract a loyal customer base that shares these values.
Seeking Legal Advice
We are always happy to help business owners tune up their company policies and practices in the spirit of equity and fairness, and now, as required by the new Pay Transparency Act. This blog post is not intended to be legal advice.
To ensure you are meeting your requirements under the Act contact the writer at [email protected]. Likewise, if you are an employee who might be experiencing pay discrimination at your workplace, contact the writer to discuss your options.