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Federally regulated employees: What is considered to determine pay equity?

Employees who believe they are victims of pay equity violations might have questions about their legal rights. Under the Canada Human Rights Act, which applies to employees working for federally regulated employers such as banks, airlines, Crown corporations, and other organizations, there are express provisions requiring pay equity in the workplace. Under the Canada Labour Code, Labour Program inspectors have the power to assess for pay equity compliance and alert the Canada Human Rights Commission if a federally regulated employer is not complying with the requirements.

Wages, job evaluation and certain reasonable factors play roles in assessing pay equity, a problem which is mostly experienced by women whose earnings are less than men in similar positions.

When it comes to wages, all remuneration forms must be considered. Salaries, vacation pay, commissions, bonuses and dismissal wages must be evaluated. Also, reasonable values for housing, lodging, board and rent, and other payments in kind. Furthermore, wages also include the employer's pension fund contributions, health insurance and long-term disability plans. Wages also include any direct or indirect privileges and advantages provided by the employer.

When the worker's value of work is evaluated, the four factors to consider include responsibility, skill, effort and workplace conditions. This evaluation must be gender-neutral for all of the employer's jobs. Some reasonable factors that might justify a higher wage for a male worker than a female worker include seniority, reclassification, re-evaluation and several other factors like performance rating differences, downgrading or demotion and temporary training assignments.

Any employee with questions about pay equity can consult an experienced employment law lawyer who is familiar with the Canada Human Rights Act. The lawyer can assess the facts and explain the available legal options. This will allow the client to make an informed decision about how to proceed, and the lawyer can provide advocacy for the client throughout any ensuing investigation or legal proceedings.

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