British Columbia is introducing pay transparency legislation to help close the province’s gender pay gap.
Once the legislation is passed on Nov. 1, 2023, all B.C. employers will be required to include wage or salary ranges on all publicly advertised jobs.
Employers will also be required to publicly post reports on their gender pay gap, starting with B.C.’s public service agency and Crown corporations. The requirement will then extend to employers with more than 1,000 employees in 2024, followed by employers with more than 300 employees in 2025 and employers with more than 50 employees in 2026.
Cissy Pau, a principal at B.C.-based Clear HR Consulting Inc., says the legislation — particularly the reporting requirement — will encourage employers to think more specifically about the salary range of each role and could help eliminate unconscious bias around gender and ethnicity.
“Perhaps the [reporting requirement] will get employers moving along the path of pay equity. . . . Maybe that’s when they start realizing, ‘Oh, look at that, people in particular groups are doing the same job and paid less and we need to make efforts to bridge the gap.’”
In addition, the legislation will prevent B.C. employers from asking prospective employees for pay history information. It will also prevent employers from punishing employees who disclose their pay to co-workers or potential job applicants. While many of Pau’s employer clients prefer their employees don’t discuss compensation due to the potential for tension in the workplace, she says the legislation could bring about a cultural shift.
“If there’s a little bit more openness, it might change the conversation. If we’re a performance-based culture and [we have] merit-based increases and an employee knows they’re not making as much as [a co-worker], it might mean that employers will be more willing to have those difficult performance conversations.”
B.C. is one of four provinces — alongside Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador — without either pay transparency or pay equity legislation. It also has one of the largest gender pay gaps in Canada with women making, on average, roughly 20 per cent less than men, according to a press release from the provincial government.