Pay equity, or the equal pay for work of equal value regardless of gender, is a human right. As such, employers have an obligation to ensure that they do not practice gender-based discrimination in their pay schemes.
In 2016, the Special Committee on Pay Equity put forward a report entitled It's Time To Act. In the report, they canvass proactive pay equity regimes adopted by other countries, the commitment by major corporations to offer pay transparency, as well as Canada's federal pay equity system. While being mindful of the 12 years that had elapsed since the previous report on pay equity had been published, the Committee concluded that the system in place was ineffective.
The Government responded to the report, confirming their commitment to gender equality and affirming that equal pay for work of equal value is a human right. The response agreed to Committee recommendations and pledged to introduce a proactive pay equity legislation with a target of late 2018.
A National Need for Improvement
Despite a generally positive response from government and employers to push forward with an increased focus on ensuring pay equity, annual data continues to show gender disparity within the Canadian workforce. In 2017, a Statistics Canada study reported that women in Canada earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Despite an increased number of women joining and contributing to the workforce, the wage gap has only decreased by about ten cents over a 20-year span.
Getting The Right Support
Employers continue to be responsible for helping to ensure that human rights are upheld within their companies. As an employee, navigating a concern regarding pay equity can be complicated, making the need for legal guidance important. From investigating a human rights law issue in the workplace to providing advice to companies regarding their compliance with human rights legislation, an employment lawyer can provide invaluable support when it is needed the most.