According to a recent notice in the Journal du Barreau, Quebec’s Pay Equity Commission has begun investigating employers in the province that were required to complete their pay equity exercise by December 31, 2010, but have neglected to do so…

Quebec’s Pay Equity Act stipulates that employers with 10 or more employees are required to conduct a pay equity audit, to compare female and male job classes in¬†determining potential¬†wage gaps. ¬†If a wage gap exists, the employer is required to pay the compensation adjustments, and maintain pay equity within its enterprise thereafter.

Even though the Pay Equity Act has been in force since 1996, the Ministry of Labour stated 10 years later that many employers were still not compliant.  To address the situation, Bill 25 was introduced as an amendment to the act, and a new compliance date was set for December 31, 2010.  The amendment also required that employers conduct pay equity audits every 5 years and set out how to facilitate the process.

How the Quebec Pay Equity Act Works

All employers in Quebec with more than 10 employees must either:

  • Establish a pay equity plan; or
  • Determine the adjustments in compensation to close wage gaps between female dominated job classes, and male dominated job classes.

The way in which a pay equity exercise is conducted, is based on the employee count during the applicable time period of compliance.  It needs to be determined whether an enterprise employed 10 to 49 employees, 50 to 99 employees, or over 100 employees during its reference period.  This will help determine is pay equity obligations (e.g. whether or not a pay equity committee is required, and the types of postings that are necessary).

Failure to comply with the Quebec Pay Equity Act can have serious financial implications that can be retroactive to the date of reference.