Pay transparency bill a challenge for employers — Read Article →


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Ontario’s recently launched pay transparency legislation is a positive initiative that will alert job applicants when there’s a disparity in pay structure, but it may cause problems for employers, Ottawa employment lawyer Ella Forbes-Chilibeck tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

Introduced on March 6, Bill 203, Pay Transparency Act, 2018, aims to ensure that compensation is based on a job’s requirements, and if passed, would prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their past compensation and require large companies to report pay gaps based on gender and diversity, the article says.

“To a certain extent I think it would affect the competitiveness of certain organizations if they weren’t careful,” says Forbes-Chilibeck, the founder of Forbes-Chilibeck Employment Law.

“It’s coming on the heels of an increase in the minimum wage, so I think there’s going to be pushback. I think employers are going to have trouble with this and they may feel that it’s a burden they can’t afford or carry and I think that’s a concern,” she adds.

Forbes-Chilibeck largely represents employees and says she often sees a disparity in women’s salaries, especially in senior management roles.

She recalls the case of a man and a woman who were working in the same position, and alerted to the discrepancy in their salaries, prompting the man to ask for a reduction to his own salary, so the difference could be split between the two positions. She said the introduction of pay transparency legislation doesn’t necessarily mean that women's salaries are going to be increased.

“It could be that the difference between the two [salaries] is going to be shared and one will go down while the other will go up. It would require a commitment to equitable pay, salary and compensation. If you’re at a senior level that’s a moral imperative that you feel is important regardless of your gender,” she says.

Forbes-Chilibeck tells the online legal news outlet she has also noticed that women are less inclined to negotiate a higher salary than their male counterparts.

“They’re more willing to say, ‘Well, this is what they’re offering and I’ll take that.’ This is very frustrating to me,” she says, adding that she hopes the Pay Transparency Act might give women more confidence to negotiate.

Ella Forbes-Chilibeck