Q1: Is pay equity the same as equal pay for equal work?
A1: No. Equal pay compares pay for workers in the same job; pay equity compares the pay for jobs usually done by women (for example, clerical, social work, nursing or cosmetologist) in an establishment with the pay for different jobs usually done by men (for example, construction, truck driving, engineer or technician) in the same establishment.
Q2: Is the government dictating to employers how to pay their workers?
A2: No. Employers determine rates of pay and benefits for their employees. The Act requires that employers assess their pay and benefits practices to ensure that female job classes are not underpaid compared to male job classes of equal or comparable value in the same organization. Employers that are subject to the Act are required to value and compare female job classes to male job classes in their workplaces using the factors set out in the Act, and to pay female job classes at least the same as a male job class of equal or comparable value, based on the results of the job comparisons. This may require modifications to existing compensation systems or practices.
Q3: Can pay equity resolve internal wage inequity?
A3: Sometimes. As employers conduct pay equity job comparisons, they discover illogical pay patterns or internal wage inequities in their organization. If they wish, employers may choose to establish internal wage equity among all of their jobs, but the Act does not require them to do so. The Office does not have jurisdiction to correct all wage issues. The Act only requires that female job classes be paid at least the same as male job classes of equal or comparable value.
Q4: An employee in a male job class complains that he is paid less than a co-worker in a female job class. Is this a pay equity issue?
A4: No. The purpose of the Act is to correct systemic discrimination in compensation for female job classes. The Act does not require that male or gender neutral job classes that are paid less than other similarly-valued job classes receive a wage increase. If the employee is in a male or gender neutral job class, there is no remedy for that individual under the Act.
Q5: An employee in a female job class is paid less than a co-worker in another female job class. Is the employer required to compare these two jobs?
A5: No. Pay equity requires employers to value job classes and to make comparisons between female and male job classes of equal or comparable value. For example, the Act does not require an employer to compare the job rate of a cafeteria cashier with a housekeeper if both are female job classes.
Q6: If cleaners are earning an average of $15.00 per hour in a region, can an employer in the area claim that pay equity has been achieved if he pays his cleaners this rate?
A6: No. Relying on market pricing will not excuse an employer from examining its pay practices as required by the Act. An employer also cannot rely on external labour market information for valuing and comparing job classes and rates. For pay equity purposes, the employer is required to evaluate job classes and compare the job rates of similarly valued male and female job classes within the establishment.
Q7: A female employee who has just been hired is paid at the bottom of the grid at $20 per hour. A male employee in the comparable male job class who has worked in the company for six years is paid at the top of the salary grid at $26 per hour. Is this a pay equity issue?
A7: Unlikely. If a company has a formal seniority system where employees are paid based on their length of service, an employee who is just starting with the company will be paid less than those with more seniority. Based on this example, as the female employee’s seniority increases, she should expect to move up the salary grid at the rate of $1 per hour more each year until she too earns the maximum job rate in six years, unless there are other non-pay equity issues.
Q8: An employer pays a year-end bonus to the salesperson with the highest sales each month. Is this a pay equity issue?
A8: Unlikely. If it can be shown that the bonus is equally accessible to both, is awarded as a measure of merit for outstanding performance in sales and the bonus is not given on a regular or rotating basis, this is not likely a pay equity issue.