​​IMPORTANT NOTE: These questions and answers are presented for information purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice.​

Ontario’s Pay Equity Act applies to:

  • Public sector organizations as listed in the Pay Equity Act​ and its regulations
  • Provincially regulated* private sector** organizations with 10 or more employees
  • ​​​Full-time and part-time positions, including seasonal positions
  • Unionized and non-unionized positions except a student employed for his or her vacation period (students working part-time while attending school are covered by the Act)
  • Former employees of a workplace covered by the Act​​
*The Pay Equity Act considers the “private sector” to include the not-for-profit sector.
**Ontario regulates all industries that are not regulated by the federal government. Click here to access the list of federally regulated workplaces.

Employers must show that pay equity has been both achieved and maintained in their organization. To meet the minimum requirements of the Act, employers must carry out the following activities (if an employer has more than one location or “establishment”, these activities must be done for each establishment):

  1. Determine job classes, including gender and job rate of job classes.
  2. Determine the value of job classes based on legislative requirements of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions using a gender-neutral comparison tool.
  3. Conduct job comparison for all female job classes using job-to-job and/or proportional value method of comparison.
  4. Identify and adjust the compensation of underpaid female job classes so that they are paid at least as much as an equal or comparable male job class or classes. All retroactive payment must include interest.
  5. If ordered by a Review Officer to do so, provide payroll summary and proof of payment to the Pay Equity Office.


Considerable research is now available that shows the financial benefit of equitable compensation for companies and the economy, in addition to individuals. Check our Research and Resources​ section​ to see the latest research.

The Pay Equity Office begins the investigation process upon receipt of a completed application. The Office sends a letter to the applicant confirming receipt of application, the name of the Review Officer assigned to the case file and advising of the assigned file number. The applicant is encouraged to provide as much information as possible when filing the application.  The Review Officer will contact the applicant or specified agent to discuss the information provided and explain the process of the investigation.

The Review Officer will notify the employer that she/he has started an investigation. The employer will be advised who filed the application unless the applicant specifically requests to remain anonymous and assigns an agent to act on the applicant’s behalf.

The Review Officer will require the employer to post a “Notice of Requirement to Achieve and Maintain Pay Equity” in the workplace to inform employees that an investigation is taking place.  The Review Officer will request the employer to complete and return a “Certificate of Posting” to confirm this was done.
In addition, the Review Officer will ask the employer to provide:

  • The legal name of the employer and date the organization started operations in Ontario
  • The total number of employees and locations in Ontario, including a list of all staff with titles and job classes
  • A listing of all job classes, including the male and female comparators and their job evaluation and job rates, the job evaluation tool used and any maintenance efforts
  • A copy of the organization’s recent payroll records for all current and former employees
  • A copy of the bargaining agent’s collective agreement (if applicable).

The time to complete an investigation depends on many factors, including the complexity of issues, whether there are others who have filed similar applications, and how much time has passed since the contravention occurred, among others. While there is no typical time frame, applications may take anywhere from a few weeks to as much as 24 months to resolve.

Review Officers play a neutral role. Their responsibility is to gather as much information as possible, and if the parties do not reach their own resolution of the dispute, have the authority to make a decision as to whether the Pay Equity Act has been contravened. If a Review Officer finds a contravention, the Review Officer also has the authority to order a party to take steps to comply with the Act.

Where a complaint has been filed against an employer, the parties are encouraged to be open to the possibility of settling the dispute on their own. In the event that the parties reach a settlement, and upon receiving written notification from both parties of a settlement, the Review Officer will close the file immediately.​​​

Ontario’s Pay Equity Act does not require any employer to report its pay equity status. If you are in Canada but outside Ontario, check the laws governing your jurisdiction.

Yes, if male job classes no longer exist in your organization, they may be deleted depending on the unique situation within your organization. However, if your organization has undergone significant changes, that may be an indication that you need to look into refreshing your entire pay equity plan.

Yes, an employer may change the comparison method it used to achieve pay equity, during a maintenance exercise, provided that the new method of comparison does not contravene Part I of the Act. However, depending on the specific circumstances in the workplace, such as any existing agreements with the bargaining agents etc., you may want to seek confidential legal advice.

Yes, if you previously achieved pay equity using proxy comparators and your organization subsequently added male job classes, you may change the comparison method from proxy to either job-to-job or proportional value.

Employers are obliged to disclose sufficient information to allow the union to properly represent its employees. Although the Act does not specify what information must be disclosed or when, the Tribunal has ruled that the information requested must be clearly relevant to pay equity.

The Tribunal has considered information such as gender predominance, gender-neutral comparison system (GNCS), job evaluation tool, job evaluation results and comparisons to be the information that is reasonably relevant to pay equity.

Only organizations that are part of the public sector as defined in the Appendix in the Schedule to the Pay Equity Act and that had employees on July 1, 1993 are eligible to use the proxy method. Please see below:

Pay Equity Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.7 (ontario.ca)

If an employer has made good faith efforts to locate the records but is unsuccessful, the employer will have to re-create the pay equity plan as best as possible with the information they have. The re-created plan will have to go as far back in time as the available information permits. However, depending on your specific circumstances, you may want to seek confidential legal advice.

The Pay Equity Act covers all employers in Ontario except for private sector employers with fewer than ten employees. So, all public sector employers upon their inception and all private sectors employers upon hiring their tenth employee have to do pay equity forthwith. Please refer to the Q&A Guide to the Act for further information about minimum requirements set out in Part I and Part II of the Act.

The Act gives Review Officers authority to order employers to comply, and the PEO can refer matters to the (Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal) PEHT for further enforcement.

In addition, the Act describes offences and penalties for anyone who: 

  • Prevents a Review Officer from exercising his or her duties

  • Violates [9. (2)] by intimidating a person who is exercising their rights to pay equity. 

  • Fails to comply with an order of the Hearings Tribunal

  • Breaks confidentiality of information provided under the proxy method


I WORK in Ontario

Ontario Flag

General FAQs

Research & Resources