Knowledge of pay equity requirements lacking: Survey

Just 31 per cent of organizations have definitely posted a pay equity plan

Despite the fact pay equity was legislated in Ontario more than 20 years ago, many employers aren't very familiar with their requirements under the act, according to a new survey.

Pal Benefits surveyed 48 HR professionals and company heads in Canada, the majority of which have employees in Ontario. It found 48 per cent are only a little familiar with pay equity details and six per cent aren't familiar at all.

All Ontario employers with more than 10 employees (with the exception of federally regulated employers) are required to post a plan and achieve pay equity. However, 68.7 per cent of respondents have either never posted a pay equity plan or do not know if they did, while only 31.2 per cent of respondents have definitely done so.

Also, 14.5 per cent of respondents had reviewed their plan in the past three years while 20.8 per cent had reviewed it between three and 10 years ago.

In Ontario, the Pay Equity Act does not require employers to undergo a pay equity plan review, unlike Quebec where employers must undergo a review every five years. However, Ontario's Pay Equity Office actively audits organizations for compliance. These can either be random or as the result of a pay equity complaint.

Most respondents (66.6 per cent) thought they would pass an audit by the Pay Equity Commission, while 33.3 per cent were unsure or didn't think they would pass. The survey found 6.2 per cent of respondents have been audited and 4.1 per cent had been subject to a pay equity complaint.

Ontario's Pay Equity Act requires employers to:

• identify male/female jobs

• evaluate the relative worth of each job with a gender neutral and Ontario compliant evaluation tool for those jobs

• analyze the results for any gender based inequities

• write up a pay equity plan and post it

• rectify inequities

• maintain pay equity across time and organizational changes.

Quebec's pay equity legislation, amended in 2009, has the most stringent maintenance policy. The legislation sets out several requirements for employers, including:

• submitting a pay equity plan to the government for review

• undertaking a review every five years.

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