Last week, the Ontario government announced its intention to introduce pay transparency legislation – see our article on the announcement here. Bill 203, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 has now been introduced. The newly proposed legislation is consistent with the Ontario government’s press release. In particular, it proposes to impose the following requirements on employers:
- a salary rate or range must be stated in all publicly advertised job postings;
- job candidates may not be asked about their past compensation;
- no reprisals may be made against employees who discuss or disclose compensation; and
- certain employers must track and report compensation gaps based on gender and/or other diversity characteristics (in “pay transparency reports”).
Bill 203 also sets out in greater detail the proposed pay transparency requirements. In particular:
- The definition of “compensation” includes “all payments and benefits paid or provided to or for the benefit of a person who performs functions that entitle the person to be paid a fixed or ascertainable amount”. This suggests that the legislation is aiming to achieve transparency for remuneration in the broad sense, not just salaries.
- Pay transparency reports will have to be published “online or in at least one conspicuous place in every workplace…where it is likely to come to the attention of employees in that workplace”.
- The ministry assigned responsibility for the new legislation will have the authority to publish pay transparency reports, including publishing online.
- Employees and/or unions seeking to claim reprisal will have the ability to submit a complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, or an arbitrator, and in such cases, the onus will be on the employer to establish that there was not a reprisal.
- Compliance officers may be appointed to enforce compliance with new pay transparency requirements. Compliance officers may, for example, require an employer to participate in a compliance audit.
- Compliance officers may issue a notice of contravention and penalty to non-compliant employers.
- Employers may dispute the notice of contravention and/or penalty by making an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
- The limitation period for contraventions will require the notice of contravention to be issued within “one year after the occurrence of the last act or default upon which the contravention is based”.
However, Bill 203 reserves many potentially important details for regulations, which will be established after the legislation is passed, including:
- which employers will be exempt from the legislation, whether temporarily or permanently;
- what particular information will have to be tracked and reported in pay transparency reports;
- how often pay transparency reports will have to be submitted; and
- the amount of the penalties that compliance officers will be permitted to impose upon employers who are found to contravene pay transparency requirements.
Whether Bill 203 will become law will likely be influenced by the outcome of the upcoming election. In any event, we will be tracking and reporting on Bill 203 as it makes its way through the legislative process.