B.C. rolls out legislation for pay transparency in job ads

Staggered deadlines will allow employers time to prepare

B.C. rolls out legislation for pay transparency in job ads

British Columbia is looking to close the gender pay gap in the province with new legislation.

The provincial government has introduced new pay transparency legislation that will require all employers to include wage or salary ranges in all publicly advertised jobs.

“People deserve equal pay for equal work… all employers need to be transparent about what people are being paid to close the pay gap between men and women,” says 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.”

The requirement will be introduced to different employers in stages to give them time to prepare, according to the government:

  • 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

Pay transparency can be a great tool for recruiting talent – but there are potential downsides to consider, said Pierre Chaigneau, associate professor of finance at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Kington, Ont., in a previous interview with Canadian HR Reporter.

The B.C. legislation also prevents employers in the province from asking prospective employees for pay history information, or punish employees who disclose their pay to co-workers or potential job applicants.

The new rules will take effect Nov. 1 this year if the legislation is passed.

B.C. is also developing regulations that will provide employers with more details about how they will be required to report on the pay gap.

Also, each year by June 1, the Ministry of Finance will publish an annual report that will serve as centralized reporting of gender pay in B.C.

Pay equity challenges

In 2022 women in B.C. earned 17 per cent less than men, according to Statistics Canada. That year, the 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.

In Canada, 33 per cent of women say they have noticed pay inequities at their organization, where new hires are offered higher salaries than current employees in the same role. This is compared to 20 per cent of men who report the same thing, according to a previous survey by Robert Half.

The time it will take to close the gender gap narrowed to 99.5 years in 2019, according to a report Global Gender Gap Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum.

‘Important first step’

A couple of stakeholders welcomed the new B.C. legislation.

“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,” says Queenie Choo, CEO at multi-service agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S. “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.”

Requiring pay transparency from employers is a crucial steps towards addressing “the systemic inequities women still face today,” says Paulina Cameron, CEO, The Forum, a Canadian-based charity.

“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.”

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