chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
June 06, 2023

Canada: Proposed Legislation in British Columbia to Address the Gender Pay Gap

Mike Hamata

On Tuesday, March 7, 2023, the British Columbia Provincial Government announced new legislation designed to reduce the gender pay gap for provincially regulated employees. The BC Pay Transparency Act has now received its first reading in the Provincial Legislature and is expected to pass before summer recess, given the majority government presently enjoyed by the governing New Democratic Party. However, we note that there has been significant pushback from certain influential stakeholders in the province that believe the legislation does not go far enough with respect to its stated objective. We note this because the legislation is still subject to change, and employers in BC should watch carefully as it progresses.

In its current form, the Pay Transparency Act attempts to address the gender pay gap by requiring employers to disclose salary ranges in job postings, prohibiting employers from seeking a job applicant’s “pay history,” prohibiting employers from punishing employees who share pay information, and requiring employers to prepare publicly accessible pay transparency reports in a prescribed form.

The Pay Transparency Act is expected to have a gradual and phased-in application. The measures listed above will go into force for all provincially regulated employers in BC on November 1, 2023, except for the reporting obligations. The reporting obligations will first apply to all BC Public Service and Crown corporations with more than 1,000 employees on November 1, 2023, to all BC employers with 1,000 employees or more on November 1, 2024, to all BC employers with 300 employees or more on November 1, 2025, and to all BC employers with 50 employees or more on November 1, 2026.

The Pay Transparency Act will be a significant shift in the way the BC employers deal with compensation and how they treat information that might otherwise be considered private employee personal information. The changes will be felt throughout the employment lifecycle, from hiring through to prohibiting some kind of terminations. However, this legislation is not out of step with other Canadian jurisdictions. As an illustration, the Federal Government introduced the similar Pay Equity Act for federally regulated employers in 2018. And if the legislation does help to close the gender pay gap in British Columbia, both employers and employees will be better off.

Mike Hamata, Partner

Roper Greyell LLP

Vancouver British Columbia, Canada

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.