Q1: Can pay equity be deferred if a business is in financially difficult times?
A1: No. All employers covered by the Act must achieve and maintain pay equity regardless of financial hardship or any other difficulty. There is no defence for non-compliance: employers cannot say, for example, that they were not aware of their obligations or that they did not have the money for pay equity adjustments. Employers who do not implement pay equity are liable for making pay equity payments that they owe to all current and past employees for the period they were originally due. In some cases, retroactive payments can grow to substantial amounts. Review Officers have the authority to order interest on retroactive payments.
Q2: Are employers required to implement pay equity retroactively since the jobs have changed and the comparisons today will not be applicable?
A2: Yes. Employers who did not implement and achieve pay equity according to the original deadlines are required to do so now as if they had implemented pay equity when they were expected to have done it. In order to understand their obligations, the employer would have to determine the number of employees they had in 1987 and whether they were subject to the Part II requirement to develop and post a pay equity plan. They would define the female and male job classes they had at the time of implementation. If these jobs were different than the current ones, or there were changes since the time of implementation, the employer will have to find and use job information and job rates from those points in time to value and compare the job classes.
Q3: Are former employees entitled to retroactive adjustments?
A3: Yes. Employees who have left the establishment do not lose their entitlement to pay equity. Former employees are entitled to retroactive adjustments relating to the time they were employed in the position, pro-rated to the time they left the company. An employer is expected to make a reasonable effort to contact former employees to inform them about the outcomes of pay equity and to pay them any outstanding payments. Search strategies may include posting newspaper advertisements or notices through professional associations, or Internet searches, sending notification to employees at their last known address by regular mail, or reaching them by telephone, fax, or e-mail. Employers are advised to document their search efforts.
Q4: A private sector employer had 60 employees in 1987. By 2009, this employer had not done pay equity. Does the employer need to post a pay equity plan?
A4: No. This employer was never required to post a pay equity plan. Posting a pay equity plan is only required for employers in the private sector who had 100 or more employees on January 1, 1988, and public sector employers that had employees on January 1, 1988, or July 1, 1993, (Part II employers). However, the employer in this example must still implement and achieve pay equity. This means that the employer is required to demonstrate that male and female job classes in the establishment were identified and valued, that comparisons of female and male job classes were made using the job-to-job or proportional value methods and the job rates of female job classes were adjusted, if found to be less than the job rates of comparable male job classes. In addition, the adjustments would be owed retroactively to the date when pay equity was to have been achieved in this workplace.