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Quick Facts on Pay Equity in Ontario

The Pay Equity Act came into effect on January 1, 1988.


The Pay Equity Act covers:

            Ontario employees of public sector employers

            Ontario employees of private sector employers with 10 or more employees


The Pay Equity Act does not cover:

            Employees of the federal government

Employees regulated by the federal government such as banks, airlines, post offices, television and radio stations, telecommunications, transportation

Employees who work in provinces other than Ontario (these employees are covered by those provinces’ legislation)

Private sector employees with less than 10 employees in Ontario as of January 1, 1988 (Important note: Once a company has grown to more than 10 employees, they must achieve pay equity immediately)


Employees covered by the Pay Equity Act:

            All full-time and part-time workers

            Seasonal workers in the same position for the same employer

Students working regularly at any time during the year apart from their vacation period.


Employees not covered by the Pay Equity Act:

            Students working during their vacation periods only.

            Casual workers

NOTE: A position is not casual if the work is performed for at least one-third of the normal work period, or the work is performed on a regular and continuous basis, although for less that one-third the normal work period.


Pay Equity vs Equal Pay for Equal Work


Pay equity is equal pay for work of equal value. By comparing jobs usually done by women with different jobs usually done by men, a determination is made on whether the value of the work is substantially the same. Where the value of the work is about the same, the female job classes must be paid at least as much as the male job classes.


Equal pay for equal work means that if a man and a woman are doing substantially the same work, they must receive the same pay. (Refer to the Employment Standards Act)


In the unionized environment, the employer and union (bargaining agent) will negotiate the following:

            the female and male job classes

            the method to be used to compare the job classes

            the rate and timetable for wage adjustments

            the pay equity plan


Achieving Pay Equity


In order to achieve pay equity, the following must occur:


Identify female and male job classes.


There are three tests that you can use to determine the gender of a job class:

Current percentage of males or females

Historical pattern, and

Stereotypical perception


You will now examine each of these tests.


The first test looks at the percentage of men or women currently doing the job.

If 60% or more are female, the job class gender is female.

If 70% or more are male, the job class gender is male.


The second test looks at the historical incumbency of the job class within your organization. Have only men or only women held that job in the past?

If the historical incumbency is male, this test indicates a male job class.

If the historical incumbency is female, this test indicates a female job class.

For new organizations, this test is not applicable.


The third test is stereotypical perception.

There may be a perception in society that the job is a male or female job.

For example, nurse is considered a female job, whereas car mechanic is considered a male job.

After evaluating the test results, you should have a clear idea of whether the job class is male or female.

If you cannot conclusively determine the job class gender, you may call it neutral.


Collect Job Information on male and female jobs or positions. The jobs are then valued based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. The value of the female and male job classes is compared and the rates of pay for the female job classes is adjusted if required. Female job classes that are equal or comparable in value to male job classes must be paid at least the same job rate.


As an example, if a secretary (female job class) has an equal value to a maintenance person (male job class) but is paid less, the employer must adjust the secretary wage to be paid at least the same as the maintenance person.


Maintaining Pay Equity


Once pay equity is achieved, the employer is obligated to maintain pay equity. Reviewing the male and female job classes to determine if there have been changes in job rates, job value, duties and/or responsibilities may result in further pay equity adjustments.


Detailed information on Pay Equity is available at