Pay equity is your right
In 1975, Québec recognized the principle of equal pay for equivalent work in the Charte des droits et libertés de la personne. This principle is still valid, since wage discrimination still exists against jobs generally held by women. Women (and even men) who hold these jobs are not always paid a fair wage. Being paid a fair wage is a fundamental right.
What is the right to a fair wage?
It is the right of people in a predominantly female job to be paid a wage equal to that of predominantly male jobs of the same value in the same company. Whether you are a man or a woman, unionized or non unionized, full time or part time, permanent, casual or seasonal, regardless of your employment status, as soon as you hold a job generally associated with women, you are entitled to a fair wage. It's the law.
By asserting this right, you are continuing the work of those who have sought recognition for all the characteristics of work traditionally done by women.
Pay equity or pay equality?
These 2 concepts are similar, but completely different. The difference between pay equity and pay equality is important. Pay equity goes further than pay equality.
Combating gender discrimination
The Loi sur l’équité salariale was passed in 1996. The objective of the Act is to ensure the work done by women is recognized and they are paid a fair wage. The Act combats gender discrimination by evaluating and comparing all jobs using objective criteria (in French only). This form of discrimination is not always easy to recognize and is not always exercised voluntarily. The Loi sur l'équité salariale ensures that employers take action to eliminate this form of discrimination.
The skills required for certain types of jobs such as cashier, waiter/waitress or receptionist are considered, have long been undervalued because they are typically “female”. Sometimes these perceptions are still present in society because of unconscious biases, which place more value on the skills demanded in predominantly male jobs.
Pay equity in your workplace
Your employer has several obligations (in French only) with respect to pay equity.
- calculate the number of workers in their company (in French only)
- do an initial pay equity exercise and inform all staff by posting the results (in French only)
- do a pay equity audit (in French only) in the company every 5 years and post the results
- file the employer's Déclaration de l’employeur en matière d’équité salariale (in French only).
What pay equity work means for you
Pay equity work assesses and compares (in French only) typically female jobs with typically male jobs and adjusts the wages of female jobs upwards (in French only) if wage differences (in French only) are found. If you are in a typically female job, you may receive a pay adjustment as a result of pay equity work done by your employer.
Every 5 years, your employer does a pay equity audit to ensure that new wage gaps have not been created over the years. If necessary, they must correct them by making pay adjustments.
To find out about the status of pay equity in your workplace, please contact the staff at our Client Relations Centre.
Your role in pay equity
Even if it is your employer who has to achieve pay equity, you can actively participate in the pay equity process in the company where you work. You can:
- provide your employer with information about your duties to help them evaluate your job (in French only)
- become a member of a pay equity committee (in French only) or take part in a participation process
- read the various postings (in French only) that your employer or the pay equity committee are required to make and provide comments or ask for additional information
- exercise the recourses provided for in the Loi sur l’équité salariale
If you believe that your rights are not being enforced or respected, you may file a confidential complaint about:
- an initial pay equity exercise, whether completed or not
- a pay equity audit, whether completed or not
- prohibited conduct (in French only)
To learn more about pay equity, visit our Right to a Fair Wage section, which presents the principles of pay equity and the origins of gender discrimination. Training and webinars are also available online.
Remember! Pay equity is your right.
By exercising your rights and participating in pay equity work, you are contributing to the fair recognition of your work and that of your coworkers.