is it illegal to discuss wages in canada

Is It Illegal to Discuss Wages in Canada?

At some point during their employment, many workers may have felt discouraged from discussing their wages. It’s a common perception that such conversations are discouraged or considered a workplace taboo. This article delves into the rights of employees regarding wage discussions, the responsibilities of employers, and steps to take if you believe your workplace is not complying with the law.

Is It Illegal to Discuss Wages?

What many employees may not realize is that, in Ontario, employers cannot legally prohibit employees from discussing their wages and earnings. Several laws in the province protect employees’ rights when it comes to discussing their pay rates. Regardless of whether employers are aware of these obligations or have company policies stating otherwise, employees still retain these rights.

What Rights Do Employees Possess When Regarding Discussing Wages?

The Pay Transparency Act also allows employees the right not to be punished for inquiring about their compensation, for disclosing their compensation to another employee, or for asking for information based on transparency reports. 

Section 74(1) of the ESA gives employees the right not to be intimidated, dismissed (fired), or otherwise penalized for discussing their rate or pay or determining whether their rate of pay is in line with the Equal Pay for Equal Work section. Employees also have the right, under this section, to ask that their employer to comply with the ESA and all regulations under it, make inquiries about the regulations, file complaints with the ministry, and exercise their abilities under the Act.

Based on the ESA and the Pay Transparency Act, employers do not have the ability to prevent their employees from discussing their wages. Employees are able to confirm that their pay is in line with Part XII of the ESA, though they should remember that pay difference can be based on any of the other items listed above. 

What Are Employers Obligations?

 Employers are obligated to allow their employees to discuss rates of pay to ensure that they are in line with Part XII of the ESA. They are prevented from intimidating, dismissing (firing), or otherwise penalizing employees if an employee does exercise any of their abilities given by the ESA, or if they make a complaint about their employer to the Ministry of Labour. 

 As well as their obligations under the ESA, employers also have wage-related obligations based on the Pay Transparency Act. The Pay Transparency Act promotes gender equality and equal opportunity in the workplace through equal compensation and transparency of pay. Companies must include information about pay range when advertising a job, report on pay transparency (depending on the number of employees), and promote equality of genders through pay. Employers may not inquire about the compensation history of their employees or punish their employees if they inquire about their compensation rate, another employee’s compensation rate, or the transparency report.

Employers should be careful to read through their obligations regarding the compensation of their employees and ensure that any policies are in line with both the Pay Transparency Act and the ESA. 

Can I Hold My Workplace to That Wage Discussion Standard?

Employees have the ability through both the ESA and the Pay Transparency Act to inquire about the requirements of both acts and whether their work is fulfilling them. If your workplace has instituted policies that directly contradict the requirements under the ESA or the Pay Transparency Act, you are able to bring that to the attention of your employer. If they refuse to comply with the regulations of either Act, you may be able to make a claim to the Ministry of Labour.

In Summary

Employers are obligate to pay attention to and fulfill the requirements laid out by the Ontario government in the Employment Standards Act and the Pay Transparency Act. It is important that each employer familiarizes themselves with the requirements of both acts, as well as the abilities of their employees. Any policies preventing employees from sharing their rates of compensation with one another directly violate both acts.

 Employees should keep in mind that they have the ability, at any point, to share their rate of compensation with other employees, and to inquire about the rate of compensation of their coworkers. Employers should be maintaining equal pay between people of the same gender who are working in a comparable position. 

 If you have questions or further concerns about sharing your rate of compensation, or about whether your compensation is unequal based on your sex or gender, be sure to seek help from a qualified employment lawyer at Achkar Law. 

Contact Achkar Law

If you are an employee who is concerned about your right to discuss wages, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help.

Contact us today at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and let us help you find the solutions you need to move forward.
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