Pay Equity and Equal Pay for Equal Work – There is a Difference

September 8, 2021 Leah NacuaIndustry News and Events 235 Views

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are increasingly becoming a strategic priority for many organizations.  To have teeth, such initiatives need to include a discussion about “pay equity” and “pay equality”.  But wait… isn’t “pay equity” the same as “pay equality”?  While “equity” and “equality” are often used interchangeably, they are quite different especially when it comes to talking about the gender wage gap. 

Pay Equity:  Comparing Apples to Oranges

In Ontario, “pay equity” refers to equal pay for work of equal or comparable value.  It compares different jobs like apples are compared to oranges; pay equity compares jobs usually done by women with different jobs usually done by men.  It requires that female job classes must be valued and compared to male job classes, based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.  If they are found to be of similar value, the job classes must be paid the same. 

Pay Equality:  Comparing Apples to Apples

On the other hand, “pay equality” (or equal pay for equal work) is like comparing apples to apples.  It compares the pay of similar jobs, where men and women are doing the same work.  If men and women are doing the same job, and the work requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions, then they should be paid the same. 

Does your workplace have its pay equity act together?

The Act covers all employers in Ontario except for private sector employers with fewer than ten employees.

Part I of the Pay Equity Act applies to all employers, with the following minimum requirements:

  • Determine job classes, including the gender and job rate of job classes.
  • Determine the value of job classes based on factors of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.
  • Conduct comparisons for all female job classes using job–to–job, proportional value or proxy method.
  • Adjust the wages of underpaid female job classes so that they are paid at least as much as an equal or comparable male job class or classes.

Part II of the Pay Equity Act only applies to certain employers that were in existence when the Act came into effect (January 1, 1988).  Part II employers are required to follow a mechanism for preparing, posting and amending pay equity plans within specific time frames for implementation.  It applies to both unionized and non-unionized environments.

On September 29th, 2021, EMC will be hosting a Review Officer from the Ontario Pay Equity Office, to provide a primer on what “pay equity” actually means, why it matters, and how to do it.  Please RSVP if you wish to attend.