How will Bill 148 Affect Pay Equity and Your Company?

The pay equity landscape in Ontario is changing! 

Recently I have had the pleasure of interviewing on this topic. David Whitmarsh CEO of the Whitmarsh Consulting Group and owner of sat with me to discuss the intention of Bill 148 and how it might impact HR departments across Ontario. 

Here is the transcript of that interview. 

Interview with Ruby Maini: Bill 148 and Pay Equity In Ontario

Tell us a bit about Bill 148.

Bill 148 is about helping organizations have good pay practices and pay equity. The aim of the bill is to ensure that organizations have a program with rigorous due diligence around why they pay people what they do. Over the years, and what data has shown, is that there is a gender pay gap in which women are paid less than their counterparts. This bill offers step-by-step procedures to help organizations look at their pay practices, and teach them to identify and price their jobs, in an equitable manner. The bill also takes a look at the competitive marketplace so that companies can compete in their sectors. This bill is intended to force companies to identify discrepancies in current pay practices and make them address it.

Further Reading:  A plan for fair workplaces and better jobs (Bill 148)

Have you had any experience with pay equity programs like this in the past?

Well, pay equity really came into being in 1990 at a provincial level here in Ontario. At that time we did a lot of work in that space. I was head of HR at Women’s College Hospital and we were one of the first organizations to implement and comply with that legislation. Our role at HR Strategies was also being on the advisory board of the Ontario Hospital Association, assisting with the selection of appropriate tools and guidelines of how to actually implement the legislation within the broader public sector, specifically within the OHA and healthcare centre. This goes back a number of years. Fast forward and you’ll see how other provinces have adopted the similar legislation, and now it’s federal – approved recently, within the last month.

How might you know if your organization will be affected by this change?

There is notification. Every federally-regulated organization has a contact within the government who they deal with, on a regular basis, on various pieces of legislation. So they will receive notification that this legislation now impacts them, and how it will impact them. Then I imagine the next step will be information sessions to the public: stakeholder meetings, getting feedback on the legislation, how they can assist, learning from the provincial level, and so on.

Then typically what the government does after getting stakeholder information is they provide guidelines. And in this particular case, they may identify a body within the government that will be there to support the organization with information, training, education and overall guidance.

Only companies whose headquarters are located in Ontario, Canada will be affected, am I right?

That’s right.

So even if your organization may not be impacted, do you think it’s a good practice for all companies to address pay equity?

Absolutely! If you want to be competitive and to retain your top talent, addressing pay equity is critical.

I think that a lot of organizations think they have addressed the gender wage gap by implementing paid programs, but data shows we still have a gender pay variance.

This new bill should give every organization a little bit of a nudge to review their pay programs. Are you really following the guidelines so we can close this pay gap?

What steps do you recommend organizations take to start the process?

Follow the 12-13 steps that the provincial legislation outlines and understand how long you are going to have to comply. Typically how long you will have is based on the size of your company. And understand, it’s really going to be the HR departments that are responsible for all of the documentation around jobs, organizational structures, reporting, descriptions, and compliance (ensuring current salary structures are in place and reviewed.) So you need to have a current state assessment done; make sure that everything is up to date, then you’re in a good position to follow the steps that the legislation provides as you move forward.

What do you see as being the biggest hurdles for companies that will be impacted by this legislation?

From our experience, the biggest hurdle is usually budget. No matter how you look at it, compliance is going to cost employers money. Companies will need to free up their own resources to pay for this project or spend time actually doing what needs to be done. Secondly, it’s far-reaching in terms of inclusion and collaboration within an organization – so you have people in all parts of the organization being involved so a significant amount of employee participation is required. There’s also a cost impact from the methodology – the legislation will require you to have an evaluation tool which of course is either developed or purchased (usually by a third party). There’s also another cost impact: once you go through the analysis, if you do determine that there is a gender pay gap, then you need to address that from a payroll perspective as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? How can people get a hold of you?

Contact us to schedule a call and I’d be happy to discuss pay equity, bill 148, and how it could impact your business. 

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