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Proposed amendment to the Quebec Pay Equity Act introduced in February 2019

Bill 10, An Act to amend the Pay Equity Act mainly to improve the pay equity audit process, was introduced in the Quebec National Assembly on February 12, 2019 (the Bill). The Bill will come into force on the date it receives assent and also contains transitional provisions. The amendments stem from a Supreme Court of Canada1 decision dated May 10, 2018, which concluded that certain provisions of the Pay Equity Act (the Act) contravened the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Under the Act, employers must conduct a pay equity audit every five years. If there are unjustified differences in compensation between male and female job classes of equal intrinsic value on the prescribed audit date, the employer must pay an adjustment as of that date. However, under the Bill, the pay equity audit must identify any events that have led to differences in compensation since the previous audit and, if applicable, determine the adjustments required as of the date of such events. The pay equity adjustments are thus payable as of the date of the events. This is to ensure that adjustments identified in the pay equity audit are retroactive to the date of the event in question (e.g., change in organizational structure), which is not currently the case. The Bill also sets the terms and conditions of payment of the adjustments with respect to the predominantly female job classes concerned.

The Bill creates new obligations for certain employers with respect to the internal postings about the pay equity audit. An employer who has set up a pay equity committee to establish a pay equity plan or whose business has at least one certified association representing the employees covered by the pay equity audit must, if the employer conducts the audit alone, set up a process that allows for participation from employees. During this process, the employer must send information on the pay equity audit in progress to the certified associations and to the unrepresented employees, and establish consultation measures to enable those associations and employees to ask questions or make observations to express their concerns, expectations, opinions or suggestions.

Under the Bill, pay equity audit postings will now include a summary of the questions asked and observations made during the participation process, the manner in which such questions and observations were taken into account by the employer, a list of the events leading to adjustments and, for each of those events, the start date and, where applicable, end date, or, where no adjustments are required, a notice to that effect.

Among other proposed changes, the Bill requires the use of a prescribed form to file a complaint with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et sécurité du travail. This commission assists employees seeking help in drafting a complaint.

We will keep you updated on developments in this matter.

1  Quebec (Attorney General) v. Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux, 2018 SCC 17

News & Views - March 2019 (PDF)