Employee rights

As an employee in a federally regulated workplace, you have the right to earn equal pay for work of equal value.  

If you work for a federally regulated employer with 10 employees or more, you may be covered by the Pay Equity Act.  

If you work for a federally regulated employer with fewer than 10 employees, you maintain your right to equal pay for work of equal value under section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Your employer's responsibilities

The pay equity plan sets out the process to identify any differences in pay between jobs commonly held by women and those commonly held by men. The plan is created either by the employer or a pay equity committee established by the employer.

If the process finds differences in pay for jobs that have the same value, those jobs may be eligible for an increase in compensation.

Can I take part in the pay equity process? 

Yes, as an employee, you can be involved in the pay equity process. You can participate simply by accessing information about the pay equity process or even by sitting on the pay equity committee.

Your level of involvement in the pay equity process will vary based on whether you are unionized and the number of employees in your workplace.

Notices and information

As an employee, you will have access to information about the pay equity process, including for example: 

  • A notice that outlines your employer’s responsibility to develop a pay equity plan; 
  • The draft and final pay equity plan; 
    • Once an employer/pay equity committee posts a draft pay equity plan, employees have a 60-day timeframe to provide their comments. 
  • If there are any increases in compensation, the notice of increases outlining when the employer will provide increases or lump sum payments; and, 
  • Notice that the employer has asked the Pay Equity Commissioner for permission to change the way certain rules apply to them (such as a posting or payment deadline). 

This information will be provided through accessible workplace postings.

Pay Equity Committees

A pay equity committee is a group of individuals selected to participate in the development of a pay equity plan and determine whether any increases in compensation are required for their workplace.

The following employers must establish a pay equity committee made up of employer and employee representatives: 

  • Employers with 100 or more employees; and, 
  • Employers with 10 to 99 employees, if some or all are unionized. 

An employer with 10 to 99 non-unionized employees, is not required to establish a pay equity committee but may decide to do so

If your employer is required or has decided to create a pay equity committee and...

  • You are unionized - Your bargaining agent will get a seat on the committee and it is up to the bargaining agent to determine who will be the representative. 
  • You are not unionized - Your workplace will have to hold a vote to choose a member to represent non-unionized employees.  

Employers must provide both workplace space and paid time so that employees can choose the member(s) to represent them on the pay equity committee.

Members have a right to paid time to participate in committee activities (e.g. to attend and prepare for meetings or participate in training). 

How will I know if I’m eligible for a pay increase or not?

Employees who will be receiving an increase in compensation will be notified about the amount of the increase and when it will be made through the posting of the pay equity plan and notice of increases.  

When and how can I make a complaint? 

When forming the committee or creating the pay equity plan, employees can file a complaint to the Pay Equity Commissioner within 60 days from becoming aware of the following alleged conduct:  

  • An employee believes that an employer has tried to influence or interfere with the selection of the non-unionized employee representative for the pay equity committee. For example: 
    • Amir is a non-unionized employee. His employer is not allowing employees to vote for their non-unionized pay equity committee member at work. Amir files a complaint to the Pay Equity Commissioner about the situation.  
  • An employee believes that they have been retaliated against by either their employer or bargaining agent, for exercising their rights under the Act. For example: 
    • Maria was suddenly demoted after providing written comments on her employer’s draft pay equity plan. She had not received any prior remarks from her employer that her performance was not meeting expectations. Maria files a complaint with the Pay Equity Commissioner about the situation.  
  • An employee believes that their employer or their bargaining agent has acted in bad faith or in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner in the context of their pay equity work. For example: 
    • Julie has reasons to believe that her bargaining agent has acted in an arbitrary manner through the pay equity process by not adequately addressing her concerns about the value of work attributed to her job class. Julie files a complaint with the Pay Equity Commissioner about the situation.    

After the final pay equity plan is posted, employees in workplaces without a committee can file a notice of objection about the plan within 60 days to the Pay Equity Commissioner. 

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