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Navigating Change: Insights into BC's Pay Transparency Act for Employers

June 16, 2023

Human Rights & Discrimination

Navigating Change: Insights into BC's Pay Transparency Act for Employers

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On March 7, 2023, the BC government introduced Bill 13, the Pay Transparency Act. It came into effect on May 11, 2023. The purpose of the Act is to identify and eliminate wage gaps persisting for women and other equity groups. Section 2 of the Act comes into effect on November 1, 2023, requiring all employers in B.C. to include the expected pay or the expected pay range for a specific job opportunity that they advertise publicly.

Key Features

We will review each section below, but want to start with a quick overview of the key features of note:

  • Requires employers to specify the expected “salary or wage” in all advertised job postings – effective November 1, 2023
  • Prohibits employers from asking job applicants how much they previously or currently make
  • Prohibits retaliation against employees for: asking about their pay; disclosing information about their pay to other employees; or asking employers to comply
  • Require employers to prepare annual pay transparency reports. Employers with publicly accessible websites must post their reports online.
  • Reports must include data re: Indigenous women, women of colour, immigrant women, women with disabilities and non-binary people
  • Reporting obligations phased in between November 2023 and November 2026 depending on size of employer - the largest private employers (over 1000 employees) will start in November 2024, over 300 employees in 2025 and over 50 employees in 2026
  • Exception for employers with less than 50 employees
  • Bill 13 does not create recourse mechanisms where gender pay gaps are identified --> individual’s primary recourse is filing wage discrimination complaint with Human Rights Tribunal

The BC province also provided additional guidance on wage or salary information to be posted, in October, 2023, summarized below:

  • Employers are not obligated to include bonus pay, overtime pay, tips, or benefits on job postings, although they can choose to do so voluntarily.
  • Job postings must include the expected wage or salary, which can be presented as a single figure (e.g., "$20 per hour") or as a range (e.g., "$20-$30 per hour" or "$40,000 - $60,000 per year").
  • When presenting a wage or salary range, it must not have unspecified minimum or maximum amounts (e.g., "up to $30 per hour" is not acceptable, but "20-$30 per hour" is).
  • There is currently no specified limit on how broad or narrow the wage or salary range can be, and this is at the discretion of the employer.
  • The wage or salary information should represent the employer's reasonable expectation of pay for the job at the time of posting.
  • Applicants can request a higher wage or salary than advertised, and employers can agree to pay more than the amount advertised.
  • The requirement applies not only to jobs directly posted by employers but also to positions posted by third parties on various job search websites, job boards, and other recruitment platforms.
  • This requirement extends to jobs advertised in other jurisdictions if they are open to B.C. residents or may be filled by someone living in B.C., regardless of whether the work is in-person or remote.
  • General "help wanted" posters and broad recruitment campaigns that do not specify job opportunities are exempt from this requirement.
  • If a job is not publicly posted, there is no obligation to include pay information.

Review of the Act

Pay History

The Act prohibits employers from asking job applicants how much they previously or currently make, unless the pay history information is publicly accessible.

Non-Retaliation Provisions

The Act prohibits retaliation against employees for

  • asking about their pay;
  • disclosing information about their pay to other employees; or
  • asking employers to comply.

Job Postings

The Act requires employers to specify the expected “salary or wage” in all advertised job postings, effective November 1, 2023.

Pay Transparency Reports

The Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to prepare annual pay transparency reports by November 1st of each year. These reports must include data on pay gaps for certain groups including:

  • Indigenous women;
  • women of colour;
  • immigrant women;
  • women with disabilities; and
  • non-binary people.

Employers with publicly accessible websites must post their reports online. Employers who do not have publicly accessible websites must make a copy of the report available to their employees in a conspicuous place in each of their workplaces and make a copy available to any member of the public who requests one.

These obligations will be phased in between November 2023 and November 2026, depending on the size of the employer:

  • As of November 1, 2023: B.C. government and the six largest Crown corporations, which are BC Hydro, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corp., BC Transit, ICBC, and Work Safe BC
  • As of November 1, 2024: all employers with 1,000 employees or more
  • As of November 1, 2025: all employers with 300 employees or more
  • As of November 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees or more

Summary of other details available in October 2023:

  • Employers will need to create reports highlighting pay disparities for specific demographic groups
  • An online reporting tool is now provided to assist employers in generating these reports: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/gender-equity/preparing-pay-transparency-reports
  • The exact content requirements for the reports were developed through collaboration with the BC Public Service Agency and the six largest Crown corporations - see mock report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/services-policies-for-government/gender-equity/pay-transparency-report-mockup.pdf
  • Employees must have the option to voluntarily update this information annually
  • Employers will use the collected data to generate a Pay Transparency Report with the assistance of a tool introduced by the Ministry
  • The Ministry will involve employer groups and payroll associations in the tool's development and share it with employers
  • The pay gap will be reported as the difference in hourly wages, overtime, and bonuses between men, women, and non-binary individuals
  • Employers may also need to report the percentage of each gender within quartiles, categorizing them as the top 25% of earners, high 25%, mid 25%, and lowest 25%
  • Detailed wage data in terms of dollar amounts will not be part of the reporting requirements.

Recourse Mechanisms

The Act does not create recourse mechanisms where gender pay gaps are identified. An individual’s primary recourse is filing a wage discrimination complaint at the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Note to Readers: This is not legal advice. If you are looking for legal advice in relation to a particular matter please contact one of our group members. We communicate all these updates to our clients and readers on our Employer Resources Portal and through monthly Newsletters.

If you are an employer or an employee seeking advice on how the Act affects your employment relationship, the Employment and Labour Group at KSW Lawyers would be pleased to speak with you. Please contact us here or by phone at 604-507-6192.

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CHRIS DRINOVZ

Partner

Chris Drinovz is a Partner at KSW Lawyers and the founder and leader of the Employment & Labour Group. His calling is to excellence through the mastery of his craft and tireless dedication to his clients. He is described as hard-working, analytical, trustworthy, and genuine. Chris works with business leaders and union and non-union organizations to solve workplace legal problems and achieve long-term solutions that align with his client’s values. He is a dedicated advisor and an experienced courtroom advocate with a track record of success.

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