What does the Pay Equity Act do?
- Requires employers to assess all jobs in an organization by conducting an unbiased comparison of the work done by women to the work done by men in order to determine whether the women are being compensated equitably. For example, the receptionist for a company may be as valuable to the organization as the warehouse shipper-receiver. The Act requires an employer to compensate work done by female job class(es) at least equally to work done by comparable male job class(es) .
- Requires employers to keep pay equity plans up-to-date (often referred to as “maintenance”).
- Sets out a self-managed process for organizations. In other words, the Pay Equity Office does not prepare pay equity plans.
- Creates a safe forum for any party (employer, employee, union) to file a complaint with the Pay Equity Office if someone believes that the Act has been contravened.
- Allows any party to appeal a Pay Equity Office decision to the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal.
- Allows the Pay Equity Office to refer a matter to the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal.
Who does the Pay Equity Act apply to?
Part I of the Act applies to all provincial and provincially-funded public sector organizations in Ontario, and to provincially regulated private sector organizations with 10 or more employees.
Part II of the Act applies to companies that had:
100+ employees on or after January 1, 1988
10-99 employees on or after January 1, 1988 and posted a pay equity plan by December 31, 1993
Part II of the Act applies to public sector organizations that:
Had one or more employees on January 1, 1988
Had no employees on January 1, 1988 but had at least one employee by July 1, 1993
Read the Pay Equity Act (Parts I, II, III.1, IV, V, and VI)
English version of the act and its regulations: Pay Equity Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.7 (ontario.ca)
Read the Pay Equity Act (Part III.2)
Important note about Part III.2:
In 1996, the Legislature repealed the proxy provisions of the Act (S.O. 1996, c.1, schedule J, s.1.). The Service Employees International Union challenged the repeal before the Ontario Divisional Court on the basis that it contravened sections 15 and 28 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court agreed with the Union and ruled that the repeal was unconstitutional and of no force and effect. (SEIU, Local 201 v. Ontario (Attorney-General) (1997), 35 O.R. (3d) 508).
While the Court's ruling restored the proxy provisions to full effect, the Act has not been amended to reintroduce the repealed sections into the statute. The missing provisions of the Pay Equity Act, which the Pay Equity Office (PEO) is required to enforce, are reproduced on the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal’s website. A downloadable pdf version can be accessed here.
This reproduction is provided for your assistance and convenience only. Please refer to the Pay Equity Amendment Act, 1993 (S.O.1993, c.4) which remains the official version.
A Short History of the Pay Equity Act in Ontario