B.C. introduces pay transparency legislation to help close the gender wage gap

The legislation introduced on March 7 will require all employers to put wages on job postings

(Art by Reslus)

(Art by Reslus)

The Government of British Columbia introduced a pay transparency legislation which requires employers as of Nov. 1 to include wage or salary ranges on publicly advertised jobs. 

This legislation also entails that employers will not be able to ask employees for pay history information or enforce punishment on employees who reveal their pay to co-workers or job applicants. 

Once passed, the legislation will require the employers to gradually post public reports on the gender wage gap. 

This year, the BC Public Service Agency and Crown corporations with more than 1,000 employees will be required to publish such reports, followed by all employers with over 1,000 employees by 2024, all employers with over 300 employees by 2025, and all employers with over 50 employees by 2026. 

“We know that taking women as a group compared to men as a group, we have a significant disparity, one of the worst in the country. And it isn’t a coincidence that we’re also one of the few provinces without proactive pay equity legislation,” says Kasari Govender, B.C. Human Rights Commissioner. 

Govender says while the legislation is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough in addressing the problems associated with the gender wage gap. She says the legislation lacks enforcement mechanisms, making it difficult to know the level of compliance by different employers. 

“What that means is that every employer will be putting this information out on their own websites, [for] those who comply, but it will be up to individual employees to do something about that.” 

Govender also says the legislation does not have a repository for information about cross sectoral pay inequity.

“How do we compare work of equal value if we can’t look across the province and understand, ‘This is what people in this sector of employment are being paid compared to this sector,’” Govender says.

“This legislation won’t give us the data that we need to make those kinds of conclusions. So, we’re very limited even on the transparency side of things.”

She says the purpose of pay transparency is to have data to draw conclusions about pay inequities. The legislation will be helpful for large employers as they will have enough data to reveal the patterns of pay inequities within their organizations.

“Organizations with over 1,000 employees will also be able to see some of those patterns, and hopefully fulfill some of the purposes of pay transparency, just within those large employers,” Govender says. 

Govender hopes the government will introduce a system to collate the data about pay inequity, compare it across various employers and sectors, and produce reports about the changes they see. She says the current legislation has been drafted in a way that does not reveal patterns about pay inequities across different sectors. 

“We don’t have great data on the pay gap in B.C. That’s why robust pay transparency legislation is so important. The data we have shows significant gender disparity in B.C.,” she says. 

In 2022, the gender wage gap in B.C. was 17 per cent, one of the highest in Canada. The gap widens for Indigenous, racialized, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and non-binary people. 

The Ministry of Finance will publish a report on gender pay in B.C. each year before June 1.