The Ontario government introduced Bill 203, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 (the Act) on March 6, 2018. If passed, the Act will come into effect on January 1, 2019 and will establish requirements relating to the disclosure of information about compensation (salaries and benefits) of employees and potential employees. In particular, the proposed legislation will:
- ban employers from seeking information about previous compensation from a job applicant, whether personally or through an agent. A job applicant may voluntarily disclose such information to an employer;
- require employers to include information about the expected compensation or range of expected compensation on publicly advertised job postings;
- require prescribed employers to prepare a pay transparency report that details information about the employer, the employer’s workforce composition and differences in compensation in the employer’s workforce with respect to gender and other prescribed characteristics throughout the workforce. Prescribed employers will be required to submit the pay transparency report to the Ministry of Labour and post the report online or in at least one conspicuous place in the workplace where it is likely to come to the attention of the employees. The Ministry may also publish the pay transparency report;
- prohibit reprisals against employees in exercising their rights under the Act, including, for example:
- asking about their own compensation;
- disclosing their compensation to another employee;
- inquiring about a pay transparency report;
- asking the employer to comply with the Act or the regulations.
Allegations of reprisal may be dealt with either by arbitration under a collective agreement, where one is in place, or by filing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
The Act provides for the appointment of compliance officers who are given broad duties and powers to conduct compliance audits and investigations to ensure compliance with the Act. An employer may be subject to a notice of contravention and a corresponding penalty where a compliance officer finds the Act or its regulations have been breached. The penalties for contraventions are not set out in the Act and will be determined in accordance with the eventual regulations. The Act also sets out procedures for disputing a notice of contravention before the OLRB or enforcing the notice in a court.
In Our View
Further details on the class(es) of employers who may be exempt from the Act or who will be required to prepare and submit pay transparency reports, their contents and form, and submission timeframes are to be prescribed by future regulations under the Act. The Ontario government has indicated in media reports that it plans to phase in the requirements under the Act, first to the Ontario public sector, followed by larger private sector workplaces with 500 or more employees and then 250 or more employees.
We will monitor developments as they occur and keep readers apprised of the progress of Bill 203.