The Blurry Status of Pay Transparency Reform in Ontario

Over the last few weeks, much of the focus of Ontario’s employment law community has been on the proposed repeal of many of the changes arising from Bill 148.  However, the Ontario government has also quietly taken aim at the pay transparency legislation that the Liberal government announced and passed just before the June election.

We summarized the highlights of the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 in Patrizia Piccolo’s blog in March (which was just before the bill was passed and became law).  This act was part of a broader proposal to encourage women’s participation in the workplace.

The transparency obligations are set to come into force on January 1, 2019, and include the following:

  • Employers must include a salary rate or range with all publicly advertised job postings
  • Employers must not ask job candidates about their past compensation
  • Employers cannot engage in reprisals against employees who discuss or disclose compensation
  • Employers with 100+ employees would eventually be required to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics

While some employers are already compliant because they adhere to progressive best practices, many employers were scrambling to create new protocols, train hiring managers and perform salary calibration to prepare for January 1.

On November 15, 2018, contemporaneous with issuing its Fall Economic Outlook, the government introduced legislation that would press pause on pay transparency preparations in Ontario.  Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 is an omnibus bill affecting a wide range of laws, including the Pay Transparency Act, 2018, just weeks before its January 1, 2019 enactment date.  Unlike the provincial government’s “repeal and revise” approach to Bill 148, Bill 57 proposes to delay the enactment of the Pay Transparency Act, 2018 “to a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.”

Bill 57 has passed first reading.  The government has not shared details regarding when (or if) it expects to re-introduce any pay transparency legislation, assuming that Bill 57 passes.  It is our expectation, however, that it will pass before the legislature breaks before the holidays.

We will keep your updated as to the status of Bill 57 and share any other details about proposed pay transparency reform.

Jennifer Heath, Partner & Co-Founder