Companies throughout the province Quebec have begun receiving notices from the Pay Equity Commission giving them 60 days to comply with the Pay Equity Act or face stiff penalties ranging from $1,000 to $45,000. As part of the Pay Equity Commissions’ Verification Program, the Commission appears to be targeting companies who have failed to complete their annual online declaration or who have completed the declaration indicating that they have not yet complied, despite their obligation to do so.
Fortunately, despite the fact that for many companies the original deadline to comply was in 2001, the Commission has been very flexible and has often, even in the case of complaints, allowed companies extended time to complete their pay equity plan so long as it was within the new deadline, and this without giving any fines (although any pay adjustments would be retroactive)! For this reason we strongly urge any company who receives this notice to immediately comply.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Pay Equity can be defined as equal pay for different but equivalent work. In 1996, the Pay Equity Act was put in place in Quebec to rectify pay differences caused by systematic discrimination in positions which are predominantly held by females. The Pay Equity Act applies to any company with 10 employees or more during their reference period, which can vary from one company to another, depending on the date that the company began its activities.
Under the modified Pay Equity Act, most companies were to comply, or update their original plan by December 31, 2010. For many companies the original deadline to comply was as early as November 21, 2001, in which case any pay adjustments must be made retroactively to this date.
For more information on Pay Equity please consult the article Pay Equity: Frequently Asked Questions, the website of the Pay Equity Commission, or book a free consultation with one of our pay equity specialists here.