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Legislation will help close B.C.’s gender pay gap

March 7, 2023 at 10:45 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

New pay transparency legislation was introduced March 7, 2023, to help close the gender pay gap in B.C. – the next step on the path to pay equity.

Once the legislation is passed, as of Nov. 1, 2023, all employers will be required to include wage or salary ranges on all publicly advertised jobs. In addition, as soon as the legislation is in force, B.C. employers will not be able to ask prospective employees for pay history information or punish employees who disclose their pay to co-workers or potential job applicants – actions known to contribute to the gender pay gap.

“People deserve equal pay for equal work. We’ve been taking action to close the pay gap since 2017 with investments in child care and training, and increases to the minimum wage. Today, we’re taking the next step – all employers need to be transparent about what people are being paid to close the pay gap between men and women,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Our work doesn’t end here. We’re determined to continue our engagement with all of our partners to close the pay gap and ensure people get the fair payment they deserve.”

When the legislation is passed, starting in November 2023, B.C. employers will gradually be required to publicly post reports on their gender pay gap. This requirement is being introduced in stages – by number of employees – to give employers time to prepare, as follows:

  • Nov. 1, 2023: BC Public Service Agency and Crown corporations with more than 1,000 employees (ICBC, BC Hydro, WorkSafeBC, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corporation and BC Transit).
  • Nov. 1, 2024: all employers with 1,000 employees or more
  • Nov. 1, 2025: all employers with 300 employees or more
  • Nov. 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees or more

“Everyone deserves fair working conditions. Being transparent about the wages an employer pays its workers brings us one step closer to reducing the gender pay gap,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Our government is committed to keep working together to eliminate wage discrimination and empowering all workers.”

Each year by June 1, the Ministry of Finance will publish an annual report that will serve as centralized reporting of gender pay in British Columbia.

Regulations are also being developed for the fall that will provide employers with more details about how they will be required to report on the pay gap. The goal is also to ensure that addressing the pay gap goes beyond the gender binary, making B.C. the first jurisdiction in Canada to take this approach.

The pay gap also disproportionately impacts Indigenous women, women of colour, and  immigrant women, as well as women with disabilities and non-binary people. In developing reporting regulations, B.C. will look at ways demographic data can be safely collected from employees using the province’s Gender and Sex Data Standard and work underway that follows the new Anti-Racism Data Act.

Pay discrimination is prohibited in B.C. under the Human Rights Code. If employees are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, including pay discrimination, they can file a claim with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The introduction of pay transparency legislation follows engagement that included Indigenous partners, business associations, organized labour, employee associations, employment and legal advocates, municipalities, and the non-profit and public sectors.

Quotes:

Queenie Choo, CEO, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

“B.C.’s new pay transparency legislation is an important first step in reducing the persistent gender pay gap in our society by requiring employers to publicly disclose average pay for male and female employees. The legislation will address systemic discrimination in the workplace that holds women back from achieving their true potential and will help ensure fairer compensation across our province, so we remain a competitive and attractive place for citizens and newcomers to settle.”

Paulina Cameron, CEO, The Forum

“Pay transparency legislation is a very important step in addressing the systemic inequities women still face today. Pay transparency removes bias and enables current and prospective employees to pursue opportunities that will enable economic growth for them, their families, and the business and communities they work in. Gender equity will not be achieved overnight and women and gender-diverse people deserve policies that recognize the disadvantages that still exist today, and that will proactively support businesses to make the fair, equitable and mutually beneficial decisions. There is a quote that says ‘when you don’t disclose salary range on a job posting, a unicorn loses its wings.’ I think we can all agree that our businesses, our communities and our economy need all unicorns at the table so that we can all thrive, together.”

Quick Facts:

  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2022 women in B.C. earned 17% less than men.
  • Average hourly wages for men were $35.50 while women earned an average wage of $29.53 per hour. For Indigenous, racialized and newcomer women, the gap is higher: According to Statistics Canada:
    • Indigenous women working full time earned an average of $26.74 per hour.
    • Visible minority women earned an average of $27.44 per hour.
    • Immigrant women earned an average of $28.78 per hour.

Learn More:

To view Statistics Canada gender wage stats for 2022, visit: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410034002

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