Pay equity and salary relativity
The Pay Equity Act was voted by Québec’s National Assembly in 1996 after a long battle waged by women’s groups and unions for the recognition of women’s right to equal pay for work of equal value.
How is the value of my job determined?
When the pay equity plan was developed in 2006, the union and employer parties agreed on a job evaluation system with 17 sub-factors covering the reality of female and male jobs. For each job, a score was assigned to each of the sub-factors, which were weighted to provide a total score. Because there were so many jobs to be compared, ranges of 29 points were established, creating salary rankings within which jobs were considered to be of equal value.
This system has also been used to jointly evaluate gender-neutral jobs during the 2015 contract talks, to evaluate all new jobs created since 2008, and for pay equity maintenance audits carried out by the employer in 2020 and 2015.
Why did the Québec government decide to curtail pay discrimination?
There was an awareness that because women’s work had been historically undervalued and unrecognized, women were facing systemic forms of pay discrimination that were deeply embedded in compensation structures.
What are the distinctive features of Québec’s Pay Equity Act?
This law, which is specific to Québec and was the only one of its kind in the world at the time it was enacted, applies to all employers who have ten or more employees. It is proactive, forcing employers to abolish any kind of pay discrimination experienced by the women they employ.
To do so, employers must:
- accurately identify jobs and their gender predominance,
- assess and compare predominantly female and male job classes, paying particular attention to the traditionally female characteristics that are often invisible, and
- put an end to any discriminatory pay gaps affecting female jobs.
If this is not done, the Act provides remedies for women experiencing pay discrimination.
What is the pay equity plan for the parapublic sector?
The pay equity plan for the parapublic sector is a set of initiatives and decisions intended to ensure that discriminatory pay gaps are detected and rectified in the health and social services and education systems. The plan was developed in 2006 by a joint committee that included the APTS.
What has the pay equity plan achieved?
The 2006 findings showed that there was undoubtedly discrimination within government structures – a fact that had always been denied by the Treasury Board. Outcomes speak for themselves:
- In 2007, 327,000 people received a total of 800 million dollars in pay adjustments retroactive to November 21, 2001.
- Pay adjustments averaging 6% were assigned to female job classes affected by discrimination, with 85% of APTS members benefitting from such increases.
- New, discrimination-free salary scales were established for 146 predominantly female jobs.
What is pay equity?
According to the CNESST (Québec’s Labour Standards, Pay Equity, Occupational Health and Safety Commission), the principle of pay equity means “ensuring equal pay for traditionally female jobs as for traditionally male jobs of equal or comparable value within an organization, even if those jobs are different.”
What is pay equity maintenance?
Once employers have carried out an initial assessment of female and male jobs, the Act requires them to maintain pay equity by making sure that no new pay discrimination is introduced when there are changes in either gender predominance or tasks, duties, and responsibilities.
Since 2009, employers have been required to ensure pay equity maintenance by assessing changes occurring over a period of five years. An employer may carry out this audit unilaterally.
What has been the outcome of recent pay equity maintenance audits?
The Treasury Board conducted unilateral audits in 2010 and 2015. Following these two audits carried out by the employer, the APTS was convinced that many changes affecting jobs had not been recognized, which is why it filed complaints with the CNESST in 2011 and 2016. Since then, the union and employer parties have held discussions at various stages and in various forums to resolve complaints related to the 2010 audit. So far, none of these discussions has led to anything. In 2020, the CNESST is still investigating complaints filed by individuals and the union in 2011.
Didn’t the APTS obtain pay adjustments related to pay equity maintenance in 2013?
Yes. Before the Pay Equity Act was amended in 2009, employers were required to assess pay equity maintenance not every five years, but on an ongoing basis. The APTS was of the view that the Treasury Board had failed to recognize multiple changes that had taken place since 2001 in 14 job classes, and it filed a first set of complaints in 2008 and 2009. A conciliation period led to recognition of some changes, with pay adjustments for five job classes: medical archivist, transfusion safety clinical officer, genetics counsellor, psychologist, and art therapist. A working committee was also set up to review specialties in medical imaging.
How can I follow developments related to pay equity and salary relativity?
Updates are provided in the Fil@pts, a newsletter sent out twice a month by email (it is also available online under Publications). In addition, the Fil@pts will let you know whenever there is a new issue of Pay Equity and Salary Relativity. Published once or twice a year, this newsletter provides an overview of ongoing issues.
APTS provincial representatives are kept up-to-date on developments related to pay equity maintenance. Don’t hesitate to contact them through your local union office.