The Pay Transparency Act (the “Act”) is now law in British Columbia, with requirements for employers already in effect, and further requirements coming into effect as soon as November 1, 2023. The Act is intended to help close the gender pay gap by addressing systemic discrimination in the workplace.
Publicly Advertised Job Opportunities
Unless exempt by regulation, starting November 1, 2023, an employer must, in publicly advertised job opportunities, specify the expected salary or wage for the job. This does not include general “help wanted” advertisements that do not advertise a specific job opportunity. If a job is not posted publicly, there is no requirement to have pay information available.
Already in effect, the Act prescribes that employers may not inquire about an applicant’s pay history, but does not prohibit the use of publicly accessible pay history information or information already in the possession of the employer.
In provisions that are also already in effect, the Act prohibits an employer from dismissing, suspending, demoting, disciplining, harassing, or otherwise disadvantaging an employee for:
- Making inquiries to the employer about the employee’s pay;
- Disclosing information about the employee’s pay to another employee of the employer or an individual who has applied for a job with the employer;
- Asking the employer to comply with the employer’s obligations under this Act and any supporting regulations; or
- Making a report to the Director of Pay Transparency in relation to the employer’s compliance with the employer’s obligations under this Act and any supporting regulations.
Who the Reporting Requirements Apply To
Employers above a certain size will be required to complete and post pay transparency reports by November 1st of each year. These employers are referred to as “Reporting Employers”. The staged approach set out below notes when an employer becomes a Reporting Employer in accordance with the Act:
- January 1, 2023: the BC government and the six largest Crown corporations;
- January 1, 2024: All employers with 1,000 employees or more;
- January 1, 2025: all employers with 300 employees; and
- January 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees or more.
Once an employer becomes a Reporting Employer, it must prepare a pay transparency report by November 1 of each year. The specific requirements of the pay transparency report will be detailed in the Act’s supporting regulations, which at this time are not yet in force. Generally, the pay transparency report should note the pay gap differences between hourly wages, overtime, and bonuses received by men, women, and non-binary people. Real wage data, including dollar amounts, will not be reported.
The Act also sets out requirements for the collection of employee information. During the first year that a Reporting Employer must prepare a pay transparency report, the Reporting Employer must make reasonable efforts to:
- Collect the prescribed information from each employee;
- At the time an individual is hired to be an employee, collect that individual’s prescribed information; and
- At least once in every calendar year, provide each employee with the opportunity to provide the prescribed information, and update their information.
Further, the Reporting Employer must inform the employee that the disclosure of the information is completely voluntary and employees may decline to give their gender information for the purposes of preparing the pay transparency report.
A Reporting Employer must publish the report on a publicly accessible website maintained by, or on behalf of, the Reporting Employer. If they do not have a publicly accessible website, the employer must make a copy of the report available to all employees in at least one conspicuous place in the workplace(s) of the Reporting Employer and make a copy available to any member of the public who requests one. The pay transparency report must remain available until the next pay transparency report is prepared and available.
The Minister of Finance will publish by June 1 of each calendar year beginning in 2024, a report that contains the following information on the preceding calendar year:
- Differences among prescribed groups of individuals in relation to pay;
- A description of trends in relation to these differences; and
- The number of reports of non-compliance received by the Director of Pay Transparency and a description of those reports.
Key Takeaways for Employers
- As of November 1, 2023, all employers must include expected salary or wages in publicly advertised job opportunities.
- Employers may not inquire about an applicant’s pay history.
- Employer’s may not dismiss or punish employees for inquiring about pay, disclosing pay to another employee of the employer or prospective employee, asking the employer to comply with this Act or making a report to the Director of Pay Transparency regarding an employer’s compliance with this Act.
- Beginning in the staged approach as set out above, Employers must make reasonable efforts to collect employee information to complete a transparency pay report by November 1 of each year and publish said report.
EKB’s Labour & Employment team would be pleased to assist you with any questions or inquiries regarding the effects the Pay Transparency Act may have on your workplace or any other employment-related questions.