Legal Insights / Business Law / New Pay Transparency Laws in BC: Key Takeaways for Employers

New Pay Transparency Laws in BC: Key Takeaways for Employers

Oct 12 2023

On May 11, 2023, the government of British Columbia passed the Pay Transparency Act (the “Act”). The Act’s purpose is to promote wage equity, address gender-based pay disparities, and create a more transparent and equitable work environment for employees. Last year, women in BC earned 17% less than men. The pay gap also disproportionately impacts Indigenous women, women of colour and immigrant women, as well as women with disabilities and non-binary people.

New Obligations for Employers: 

Prohibition on Asking Applicants About Pay History

Employers are no longer able to seek pay history information about a job applicant. However, the Act does not prohibit employers from using pay history information already in their possession or that is publicly accessible.

Duty to Publish Salary or Wage Information for Publicly Advertised Job Opportunities

As of November 1, 2023, employers will have to include the expected pay or the expected pay range for a specific job opportunity that they advertise publicly. This does not apply to job opportunities that are not posted publicly.

Prohibited Reprisals

Employers are not permitted to dismiss, suspend, discipline, demote, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee, or threaten to do so, because the employee:

    1. asks their employer about their pay;
    2. made inquiries about an employer’s transparency report or the information contained in the report;
    3. asked the employer to comply with its obligations under the Act;
    4. disclosed information about the employee’s pay to another employee or applicant; or
    5. made a report to the Director of Pay Transparency regarding the employer’s compliance with the Act.
Reporting Requirements

The Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to publicly post pay transparency reports containing information on gender, pay, and other diversity characteristics of their employees. These requirements will come into effect in a staged process depending on the size of the workplace. Once triggered, employers will be required to prepare a pay transparency report by November 1st of each year. The reporting requirement will come into effect as follows:

    1. The Government of British Columbia and six Crown corporations (BC Hydro, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corporation, BC Transit, ICBC and WorkSafeBC) will be required to produce their first annual pay transparency reports by November 1, 2023, which is expected to be released prior to this year’s end;
    2. All employers with 1,000 or more employees must produce their first report by November 1, 2024;
    3. All employers with 300 or more employees must produce their first report by November 1, 2025; and
    4. All employers with 50 or more employees must produce their first report by November 1, 2026.

Employers should start collecting data and putting systems in place to ensure compliance well in advance of the deadline. The size of an employer is determined based on its number of employees on January 1 of each year. While there are no formal compliance mechanisms under the Act for now, employers who fail to comply with the reporting requirements may be listed as non-compliant in the Government of British Columbia’s annual summary report. Additionally, employers can anticipate that noncompliance regarding pay inequities may result in complaints with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. 

Key Takeaways for Employers:

Employers must know their obligations under the Act and consider current policies and practices that may need to be adjusted now or in the near future. While most employers will not be required to produce a pay transparency report this year, we urge that all employers take gradual steps to ensure they are able to meet their reporting requirements once they are triggered. You’ll also want to make sure you adjust job postings as of November 1, 2023.

For more information and assistance with updating policies and procedures, or if you have any questions about how the Act affects your business, please contact one of our Employment Lawyers today at 604.853.0774.

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