New pay transparency requirements in British Columbia

Salary ranges, reports part of legislation affecting employers

New pay transparency requirements in British Columbia
Nadia Zaman

Exclusive to Canadian HR Reporter from Rudner Law.

As of Nov. 1, 2023, British Columbia’s Pay Transparency Act (the “Act”) requires employers to specify the expected salary, expected wage or expected salary/wage range, along with any other information that is prescribed by regulation, for any job posting that is advertised publicly.

The reasoning behind the Act is simple. Pay gaps are widely known to disproportionately and negatively impact minority and disadvantaged groups including but not limited to people of colour, folks with disabilities, women and non-binary people. With pay transparency legislation, the intent is to address systemic discrimination in the workplace in a concrete manner by taking purposeful steps toward equity for all.

Pursuant to the Act, all employers must post information related to salary or wage, including jobs that are based outside of British Columbia, as long as the job opportunity is publicly available and is open to residents of British Columbia or postings that could be filled by residents of British Columbia, whether remotely or in-person.

So how can employers comply with the Act?

Salary or wage information

The expected salary or wage must be posted (e.g. $20 per hour or $60,000 per year) or an expected salary/wage range must be posted (e.g. $20 to $40 per hour or $60,000 to $80,000 per year) along with the publicly available job advertisement. To be clear, the Act’s requirements will not be met if the job posting simply states that the compensation will be “$20 per hour and up” or “start at $60,000 per year.”

Having said that, employers still retain a lot of discretion and flexibility, since currently there is no limit to how large the expected salary/wage range can be. In addition, employers are not required to provide information with respect to additional compensation such as benefits, bonuses, overtime pay, or tips and gratuities. Further, if an opportunity is not posted publicly, then the requirement to provide salary/wage information is no longer applicable. If an employer is participating in a general recruitment process without advertising specific job opportunities, then the requirement to provide salary/wage information does not apply either.

Pay transparency reports

Pursuant to the Act, employers are also required to prepare annual pay transparency reports available not only to employees but also to the public. In particular, such reports would include information regarding the differences between prescribed groups of individuals with respect to pay, a description of trends relating to the same, the number as well as the nature of the reports of the employer’s non-compliance with the Act, and any other prescribed information.

While the government of British Columbia and the largest provincial Crown corporations were required to publish their first annual pay transparency reports by Nov. 1, 2023, private employers are required to do so, and ensure the reports are available to all employees and the public, based on the following schedule:

  • For employers with 1,000 employees or more in British Columbia, by Nov. 1, 2024;
  • For employers with 300 employees or more in British Columbia, by Nov. 1, 2025;
  • For employers with 50 employees or more in British Columbia, by Nov. 1, 2026; and
  • For employers with less than 49 employees in British Columbia, but more than a number prescribed by regulation, by Nov. 1, 2027.

Inquiries about pay and reprisals

The Act also prohibits employers from inquiring about job applicants’ pay history, unless the information is publicly available. In addition, the Act prohibits employers from reprising against employees for inquiring about their pay or a pay transparency report, asking the employer to comply with their obligations under the Act, reporting to the director of pay transparency for the employer’s alleged violation of the Act, or disclosing pay information to another employee or job candidate.

Key takeaways

Employers would be wise to review and revise their publicly available job postings to ensure that they are complying with the Act. Equipped with the knowledge of salary/wage information, employees may negotiate their compensation with better leverage, so employers should be prepared for that as well. Further, employers should train their employees, especially those responsible for hiring, to ensure that they maintain compliance with the Act and refrain from making inquiries about candidates’ pay history as well as avoid engaging in reprisal for making inquiries about their pay, asking the employer to comply with their obligations under the Act, and anything else prohibited by the Act. Finally, Ontario is proposing similar requirements relating to including the expected pay or pay range for job postings, so employers in Ontario should be ready to implement changes in how they advertise job postings.

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