As of April 1, employers must pay part-time, casual and seasonal employees the same rate of pay as a full-time employee doing the same kind of work (and no, you cannot lower your full-time employee wage rates to match existing part-time or casual employee rates).
Prior to this date, the Employment Standard Act (ESA) provided that employers must pay employees equally despite their sex. Meaning that if two people are doing essentially the same job, requiring the same skills and effort in similar work conditions, they are entitled to equal pay regardless of their gender.
The latest amendment of Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, has broadened the scope of regulatory requirements in regards to equality in pay. The “Equal Pay for Equal Work” section of the bill now stipulates that employees are entitled to equal pay despite differences in gender or employment status.
Beyond part-time, casual and seasonal employees, this also extends to employees hired through a temporary agency. Meaning, the agency must pay the temporary employee the same as any other employee doing the same type of work within the place of employment.
Furthermore, employees of any status are permitted to ask an employer for a review of their pay, without reprisal, if they believe they are not receiving pay equal to a counterpart performing substantially the same work.
There are, however, some exceptions to these new rules. As outlined in Section 42.1 (2) of Bill 148, an employer may still pay their employees at different rates based on:
- A seniority system
- A merit system
- A system that measures earning by quantity or quality of production; or
- Any other factor other than sex or employment status
This last item seems quite ambiguous, but other stipulations in the new legislation further limit the interpretation of what these factors may be.
An employer cannot enact varying pay rates for employees that do the same job if:
a) They perform substantially the same work in the same establishment (it should be noted that the work does not necessarily have to be identical or in the same location)
b) Their performance requires substantially the same skill, effort, and responsibility
c) Their work is performed under similar working conditions
It is important to note that when the legislation speaks of “pay rate” it can be assumed to refer to monetary compensation. However there are no specifications at this time as to how other compensation, such as benefits or bonuses, is to be treated.
If you have questions specific to your operations on this or any other ESA legislation, it is best to seek out professional legal counsel to ensure compliance.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information only and is not intended as legal opinion or advice. The views and opinions expressed do not reflect the official position of BNG Bossy Nagy Group or any other affiliate.
A plan for fair workplaces and better jobs (Bill 148). (2018, March 21). Ontario, Retrieved from https://www.ontario.ca/page/plan-fair-workplaces-and-better-jobs-bill-148#section-2
Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. (n.d.). Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Retrieved from http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=4963&detailPage=bills_detail_the_bill