On March 7, 2023, British Columbia's Minister of Finance introduced Bill 13 (the "Bill"), containing proposed legislation for pay transparency, which will be applicable to provincially-regulated employers in B.C., including B.C.'s public service and crown corporations.
The Bill's stated purpose is to identify and eliminate pay differences among groups of workers.
The press release from the B.C. government says that the purpose of the proposed Pay Transparency Act is to reduce the "gender pay gap", but also to address pay gaps beyond the gender binary. The press release specifically refers to pay gaps for Indigenous women, women of colour, and immigrant women, as well as women with disabilities and non-binary people, which suggests information broader than just gender will need to be collected and reported.
If passed, the legislation will:
- Require employers to include wage or salary information in publically advertised job postings;
- Prohibit employers from asking about a candidate's pay history, or undertake reprisals against employees for asking about or sharing their pay information; and
- Require "reporting employers" to collect information from their employees and publish annual pay transparency reports.
Publicly Advertised Job Opportunities.
The Bill will require employers who publicly advertise a job opportunity to specify either the expected salary or wage for the job, or the expected range and any other information required by regulation. This section of the Bill, if passed, will come into force on November 1, 2023.
Under the Bill, a reporting employer must, by November 1st each year, prepare a pay transparency report. The pay transparency report must contain "prescribed information", which is not currently detailed in the Bill. The B.C. government has announced that regulations containing that information will be introduced in the fall.
However, the Bill defines "pay" broadly, and likely reflects the type of information an employer will have to report:
(a) a salary, wage or commission that is paid or payable by an employer to an employee for labour or services provided by the employee;
(b) money that is paid or payable by an employer to an employee as an incentive in relation to hours of work, production or efficiency; and
(c) money that:
(i) is paid or payable by an employer to an employee at the discretion of the employer, and
(ii) is not related to hours of work, production or efficiency.
The Bill also clarifies that regulations can be passed prescribing information contained in pay reports, including information about the reporting employer, the composition of the reporting employer's workforce, and differences in pay in the employer's workforce in relation to employees' self-identified gender and other characteristics. This also indicates what information employers will need to collect for compliance.
Employers must make reasonable efforts to collect the prescribed information from their employees, but the employee's disclosure is ultimately voluntary. Pay transparency reports must be published on a publicly accessible website, or, if the employer does not have a website, it must make a copy of the report available to its employees and any member of the public who requests one.
Whether an employer needs to report depends on the size of the employer. Reports are required for 2024, from employers with 1,000 or more employees; for 2025, employers with 300 employees or more; for 2026, employers with 50 or more; and for 2027, the lesser of 49 employees and a prescribed number. It is unclear whether the number of employees only includes employees in B.C., or employees of the employer more broadly.
Under the legislation, employers are prohibited from seeking pay history about a job applicant, unless the pay history is publically available.
Employers are also prohibited from dismissing, suspending, demoting, disciplining, harassing or otherwise imposing a disadvantage on an employee, or threatening to do any of the above, because the employee made inquiries about the employee's pay, disclosed their pay information to another employee or person who has applied for a job with the employer, made inquiries about a pay transparency report, asked an employer to comply with the obligations under this legislation, or made a report to the director of pay transparency about their employer's non-compliance.
The minister will be obligated to publish annual reports, including differences among certain groups, trends relating to differences, and reports of non-compliance. The director of pay transparency is obligated to, among other things, notify and consult with Indigenous governing entities who are authorized to act on behalf of Indigenous peoples whose rights or interests could be affected by the publication of the annual report.
The minister will also need to complete a written review of the effectiveness of the legislation within five years after the Act comes into force.
Coming into Force
The Bill has only passed First Reading and will need to progress through a Second Reading, Committee, and Third Reading before it becomes law. If the Bill is passed, the advertising requirements will come into effect on November 1, 2023. The remainder of the Bill will come into effect by proclamation.
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