Bill 148: Equal Pay For Equal Work

As part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act2017, Ontario set new rules that mandate Equal Pay For Equal Work, becoming the first province in North America to do so. This currently applies to employers and temporary help agencies in Ontario.

These labour laws impacted business owners, with an increase to the amount of pay an employee is to receive. As an employer, do you understand what your obligations are? Here are some important facts on Equal Pay For Equal Work, under Bill 148.

Please note: On November 21, 2018, the Ontario Provincial Government passed Bill 47Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018. This Bill repealed the Equal Pay for Equal Work. The Act came into force on January 1, 2019.

What does Equal Pay For Equal Work mean for now?

For employers, Equal Pay For Equal Work means that every employee must be paid equal to those who perform the same work, regardless of status differentiation. The purpose is to ensure that employers are paying casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers equal to or greater than full-time or permanent workers, if:

  • They do substantially the same kind of work, for the same employer;
  • Their work requires substantially the same skill, effort, and responsibility; or
  • They work under similar working conditions.

For temporary help agencies, this labour law ensures that assignment employees must also receive equal pay for doing equal work. Therefore, within the same working conditions, an assignment employee cannot be paid less than what the agency’s client would pay.

What does “substantially the same” mean?

A common question that employers ask us, is to define what “substantially the same work” means. This refers to work that is similar enough so as to be considered to fall within the same job classification. The jobs do not have to be identical in every respect, nor do they have to be interchangeable.

Employer Requirements: When Employees Request a Pay Review

If there is reason to believe that equal pay is not being provided for equal work, the labour law allows your casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees to ask for a review of their pay rate. As an employer, this requires that you provide either a pay adjustment or a written explanation in response.

Exceptions to Equal Pay For Equal Work

There are some exceptions under these rules, where the difference in the rate of pay is based on:

  • A seniority or merit system; or
  • A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.

Other factors, such as sex or age, will not qualify as an exemption.

Employer questions?

If you have questions about how to apply Equal Pay For Equal Work to your business and the upcoming repeal due to Bill 47, ask Employerline. Call our employer helpline at 1(833) 247-3650 to speak with our HR experts for free advice.