According to the Act, pay equity is achieved using the job-to-job comparison when “the job rate for the female job class that is the subject of the comparison is at least equal to the job rate for a male job class in the same establishment where the work performed in the two job classes is of equal or comparable value” [6. (1)].
“Equal or comparable value” means the job classes must have similar value; they are not necessarily identical in value. With job-to-job comparisons, employers must look for male comparators for every female job class. One male job class can serve as the comparator for more than one female job class. The direct comparisons of job rates (pay and benefits) are made between each female job class and its male comparator job class.
Sequence of search: which job classes to compare?
Employers are required under the Act to identify an appropriate male comparator job class for every female job class within their establishment according to the following search sequence [6. (3) – (5)]:
- A male job class of equal or comparable value should be identified. For unionized female job classes, comparisons are made to male job classes in the bargaining unit. For non-unionized female job classes, comparisons are made to non-union male job classes. If more than one male comparator is found, the one with the lowest job rate is the appropriate comparator.
- If there is no male job class of equal or comparable value found, an employer must then look at other male job classes throughout the establishment. If more than one male comparator is found, again the one with the lowest job rate is the appropriate comparator.
- If there are no male job classes of equal or comparable value, an employer should look throughout the establishment for a male comparator that has lower value but is higher paid than the female job class. If more than one male comparator is found, the one with the highest job rate is the appropriate comparator.
If, after applying the above sequence of search, there are female job classes that do not have a male comparator; the employer is required to use the proportional value method to achieve pay equity for these unmatched female jobs.
Several methods can be used to determine comparable value.
If an employer’s jobs have been evaluated using a point-factor system, that employer may choose to apply job clusters or a process called “banding” that sets out ranges or bands of points in which the value of different job classes are considered comparable.
- Job Cluster Method: job classes are listed according to the points given to them, from highest to lowest points. Look for job classes that “cluster” together according to the number of points they have. See if there are female and male job classes within the clusters. These will be the job classes that are of equal or comparable value.
- Floating Point Band Method: comparable jobs are determined by focusing on the point value of each female job class and then looking for any male job classes that fall within a range or band of points. Male job classes that fall within a range of points above or below the female job are of the same or comparable value as the female job class. The number of points used may be a set amount, such as 25 points above or below the female job class. Some organizations use percentages ranging from 5% to 10%, instead of a fixed number of points.
- Fixed Point Band Method: comparable jobs are determined by listing the job classes by value and dividing the set of job class values into sections or “bands”, with each band having a certain number of points. Job classes that fall within the same band are of equal or comparable value.
i. Are employers required to construct pay bands for pay equity job comparisons?
The Act does not specifically require the use of banding, or any particular strategy for achieving pay equity using the job-to-job method; the law only requires that job rates of female job classes are at least equal to the job rate of a male job class where the work performed is of equal or comparable value [5.1 (1)]. Regardless of whether or not an employer decides to use banding, there should be no gender bias in the job comparison process.
If an employer decides to use banding, there are no hard rules for setting bands for pay equity purposes. Most often, the starting value for bands is the lowest possible point score in the system, the lowest actual point value of a job class, or the typical breakpoint closest to these scores. There is also no set formula for how narrow or wide a band should be, or how many points to include within each band, or the kind of band to use (fixed or floating), or whether to use bands with even or uneven widths. The underlying test is whether the decisions are reasonable and in keeping with the Act.
ii. Avoid gender bias in banding
One sign of gender bias in the banding of job classes may occur when women in the female job classes consistently are at the top of bands and male job classes at the bottom. In this case, band boundaries may need to be adjusted so that job classes of equal or comparable value are more accurately reflected.