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British Columbia’s Pay Transparency Act: Key Takeaways for Employers

June 21, 2023 Employment and Labour Relations Bulletin 3 minute read

On May 11, 2023, the Pay Transparency Act (the “Act”) came into effect in BC, bringing in new rules and obligations for BC employers. The Act’s purpose is to promote pay equity and pay transparency in the workplace, aiming to eliminate the pay differences amongst diverse groups and directly address systemic discrimination in the workplace.

New Rules for Employers

The Act introduces several new requirements regarding pay transparency for all provincially regulated employers in BC. We have summarized these new requirements below.

Publicly Advertised Job Opportunities

Beginning on November 1, 2023, employers will be required to include the expected salary or wage, or range of salary or wage, in all publicly advertised job opportunities. This does not apply to job opportunities that are not posted publicly or general recruitment campaigns (e.g. “help wanted” posters) that do not reference a specific job opportunity.

Pay History Information

Employers may no longer ask about an applicant’s pay history. However, the Act does not prohibit employers from using pay history information already in their possession or publicly accessible.

Prohibited Reprisals – Pay Secrecy

The Act prohibits employers from dismissing, suspending, demoting, disciplining, harassing, or otherwise disadvantaging an employee, or threatening to do so, because the employee:

  • inquires about their pay;
  • discloses their pay to another employee or to a prospective employee;
  • questions their employer about a pay transparency report or its contents;
  • requests their employer to comply with the Act; or
  • makes a report to the Director of Pay Transparency with respect to their employer’s compliance with the Act.

Pay Transparency Reports

Starting this year, the Act will also start to introduce new reporting requirements. These requirements will come into effect in a staged process depending on the size of the workplace.[1] Once triggered, employers will be required to prepare a pay transparency report by November 1st of each year.

The content requirements of the report have yet to be fully developed and are expected to be described in future regulations to the Act. What we do know, however, is that using the Gender and Sex Data Standard, employers will be expected to collect gender information from their employees and will be required to report on the composition of their workforce.

Employers must make reasonable efforts to collect the gender and diversity information necessary from each of their employees when preparing a pay transparency report. In doing so, employers must also inform their employees that any disclosure is voluntary and provide employees with the opportunity to provide and/or update the information in the report at least once annually. Employers must also be cautious to comply with BC’s private sector privacy legislation.[2] In particular, an employer must ensure it has proper consent (or falls within a valid exception to consent) any time it uses or discloses employee personal information. Employers must also securely protect any personal information collected from employees with appropriate safeguards.

Employers will also have to report the pay gap in terms of differences in hourly wages, overtime, and/or bonuses received by men, women, and non-binary people.[3] This pay gap may be represented through quartiles (i.e. top 25% of earners, high 25%, mid 25%, and lowest 25%). However, employers are not expected to report real wage data (dollar amounts) of their employees.

Once the pay transparency report has been prepared, employers will be required to publish their report on their publicly accessible website. If the employer does not have a publicly accessible website, their report must be readily available to their employees and to the public (when requested).

Key Takeaways for Employers

Employers should be aware of the new rules aimed to promote pay transparency and ensure that their hiring practices and internal policies comply. While most employers will not be required to produce a pay transparency report this year, we recommend that all employers take steps to ensure they are able to meet their reporting obligations once they are triggered.

If you have any questions about how the Act affects your business, please contact a member of McMillan’s Labour & Employment Group.

[1] Not all employers are required to produce a pay transparency report immediately. This will be required for employers with 1,000+ employees in 2024, for employers with 300+ employees in 2025, and for employers with 50+ employees in 2026. For employers with less than 50 employees, requirements will be prescribed at a later date for years following 2026.
[2] British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act, SBC 2003, c 63.
[3] Pay Transparency Laws in BC News Release.

by  Kristen ShawRobbie Grant and Michael Christ (Temporary Articled Student)

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2023

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