What BC Employers Need to Know: Pay Transparency Act
By Wendy Ferguson, Chemistry Consulting Group
The Pay Transparency Act is now law in BC and employers should prepare and take necessary steps to comply with the new legislative requirements. All BC employers must comply with the new requirements, unless they are federally regulated (whereby they would need to comply with the federal Employment Equity Act).
Disclosure of Salary/Wage Information on Job Postings
As of November 1, 2023, employers will be required to specify the expected salary or wage, or salary/wage range, on all publicly advertised job opportunities. This will include job boards, company website career sections, professional association site postings and recruitment agency postings, etc.
Employers will no longer be able to seek pay history information about a job applicant unless the information is publicly accessible. Employers may not ask applicants directly about this information, or seek the information via a third party.
The Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who:
- make inquiries about their pay;
- disclose information about their pay to a fellow employee or job applicant;
- make inquiries about a pay transparency report;
- ask the employer to comply with the employer’s obligations under the Act; or
- make a report to the director in relation to the employer’s compliance with the employer’s obligations under the Act.
Retaliation includes: suspension, demotion, discipline, harassment, termination, or disadvantaging an employee or threatening to do so.
Reporting requirements will be introduced in a staged manner, starting with large employers. For 2023, employers required to report include: the Government of BC, ICBC, BC Hydro, WorkSafeBC, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corporation and BC Transit.
Unless exempted by future regulations, the reporting requirements will apply to employers with the following number of employees on January 1 of the specified year:
- 2024: 1,000+ employees;
- 2025: 300+ employees;
- 2026: 50+ employees; and
- after 2026: less than 49 employees.
Reporting employers will be mandated to prepare an Annual Pay Transparency Report by November 1 of each year. The report will need to be distributed to all employees and published on a publicly accessible website.
The government has stated that details about what will have to be included in the report are still being developed. An online reporting tool will be developed and available to assist employers with their reporting requirements.
The Act also requires that reporting employers make reasonable efforts to collect the gender information from employees, according to the new Gender and Sex Data Standard. Employers will need to inform the employee that their disclosure of this personal information for the purpose of the pay transparency report is voluntary.
The pay transparency report will include information about the employer, its workforce, the differences in pay in relation to employees’ self-identified gender, etc. Employers will be required to report pay gaps (the difference between wages, overtime and bonuses received by men, women and non-binary people).
Starting in June 2024, the provincial government will publish an annual report including information about pay differences, trends, and reports of non-compliance.
While the Act does not provide employees’ any new rights or recourse if they feel that they are not being paid fairly, BC employees already have the ability to file a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal if they feel that they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sex and gender identity.
Use of Personal Information
Employers should be cautioned about using personal information collected from their employees for other purposes. Applicable privacy legislation and requirements depend on whether the employer is a public sector or private sector employer.
According to the BC provincial government, the new legislation is intended to help close the gender pay gap by addressing systemic discrimination in the workplace.
While most BC employers will not have to comply with the new reporting requirements this year, most of the Act is now in force. BC Employers should become familiar with the proposed reporting requirements and consider how they will approach the collection and reporting of this information when the time comes.
Recruitment and hiring practices will need to be updated prior to November 1, 2023, in order to ensure compliance with new job posting requirements and restrictions on what information may be requested in the recruitment process.
For further information please visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/gender-equity/pay-transparency-laws-in-bc
Chemistry Consulting will continue to monitor any further legislative changes. Should you require support with updating your recruiting programs, policies or employment contracts, or creating a communication plan for your workforce, please contact us today.