On November 1, 2023 British Columbia’s new Pay Transparency Act (“Act”) took effect, which requires employers throughout British Columbia to post expected salary ranges for job postings. Notably, as explained by the British Columbia government in a guidance document, this requirement will also apply to postings for remote positions if the position is open to candidates in British Columbia, among other locations. 

British Columbia is now the second province in Canada with such legislation in effect following Prince Edward Island in 2022. Ontario may also follow suit with the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development recently announcing the intent to introduce legislation next week regarding pay transparency. As details emerge and if the legislation progresses toward becoming law in Ontario, we will keep you informed.

Pay Transparency

The Act requires British Columbia employers to specify the expected salary or wage for the position or the expected salary or wage range for the position. The requirement applies to a “publicly advertised job opportunity”, which means a specific job opportunity advertised to the public. In other words, general postings that are not specific to a position will not be captured by this requirement. 

The British Columbia government has stated that the salary or wage, or the range, does not need to include other forms of compensation such as commissions, bonuses, overtime, or tips. The guidance document also provides examples of wages and states the following will be compliant: 

  • $20 per hour; 
  • $20 – 30 per hour; 
  • $40,000 per year; and 
  • $40,000 – $60,000 per year. 

The government also states that “up to $30 per hour” or “$20 per hour and up” will not meet the requirement. Beyond that, we do not yet have guidance regarding how wide the specific pay range can be while remaining compliant; however, we expect a reasonableness standard will be applied. 

Pay History 

The Act also prohibits employers from asking candidates about pay history in previous roles, whether directly or indirectly through a third-party, such as the candidate’s reference. 

Although salary or wages for the purpose of job postings is narrowly defined, “pay” for the purpose of asking about pay history, as well as the reporting requirements discussed below, is broadly defined to include all forms of remuneration for work performed, including incentive payments. 

Prohibition Against Reprisal 

An employer cannot discipline or otherwise disadvantage an employee due to the employee:

  • Inquiring about their pay; 
  • Disclosing their pay to another employee, or a prospective employee; 
  • Inquiring about the employer’s pay transparency report including information within the report; 
  • Asking the employer to comply with the Act; or 
  • Making a report to the director about the employer’s compliance with the Act

The director refers to the Director of Pay Transparency as appointed under the Act. As of the date of this article, the Director has not yet been appointed. 

Reporting Requirements

On or before November 1 of each year, an employer must provide a report regarding pay transparency that includes the prescribed information required by the recently released Pay Transparency Regulation (“Regulation”). 

The Regulation sets out the following information to be included in the report, which includes: 

  • The gender categories that must be used for the report, are “male”, “female”, “non-binary”, and “unknown”; 
  • Calculations for determining differences in the mean and median pay among categories, which include bonus pay, overtime hours and overtime pay; and
  • The percentage of employees working in the four specified categories; 

The timelines for the employer’s first report are staggered based on the size of the employer. Currently, no employers are exempt from reporting by the Regulation; therefore, the following timelines apply: 

  • November 1, 2024 for employers with 1,000 or more employees as of January 1 of that year; 
  • November 1, 2025 for employers with 300 or more employees as of January 1 of that year; 
  • November 1, 2026 for employers with 50 or more employees as of January 1 of that year; and 
  • Further timelines are to be prescribed beyond 2026 for employers with less than 50 employees. 

If you have any questions about existing pay transparency legislation, be sure to get in touch