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In Ontario, the Pay Equity Act is set in place to ensure that both men and women receive equal pay for performance in jobs that are of equal value. This means that the work is similar enough that it could reasonably be considered to fall within the same job classification. The jobs do not have to be identical in every respect, nor do they have to be interchangeable.

There are three main categories when discussing pay equity:

•Equal Pay for Equal Work - discrimination in wages on the basis of gender. It involves direct comparison of jobs occupied by the opposite genders.

•Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value – aims to reduce the wage gap by comparing jobs of a different nature that are considered "male" or "female" jobs.

•Pay Equity Laws – refers to legislated programs that aim to achieve equity in pay.

How are jobs compared to evaluate equal pay?

There are four main criteria:

1) Skill
- Skill refers to the degree or amount of knowledge, physical, or motor capability needed by the worker performing the job.

2) Effort
- Effort is the physical or mental exertion needed to perform a job.

3) Responsibility
- Responsibility is measured by the number and nature of a worker's job obligations, the degree of accountability, and the degree of authority exercised by a worker in the performance of the job.

4) Working conditions
- Working conditions refer to such things as exposure to the elements, health and safety hazards, workplace environment, hours of work and any other terms or conditions of employment.

Other criteria that are used include: duties, service, education, and experience.

In addition, The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), has provisions that ensure women and men receive equal pay for performing substantially the same job. Under this act, men and women are entitled to receive equal pay for "equal work", meaning work that is substantially the same, requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions in the same establishment.

Are There Any Exceptions?

If a man and a woman are doing substantially the same work, they can be paid different rates of pay if the difference is due to:

A seniority system. Under an established seniority system, the time an employee has worked for an employer is credited. This can be used to justify paying a more senior employee a higher wage than a less experienced employee.

A merit system. An employee can be paid more money or a bonus based on a system that measures the work performance of the employees objectively.

A piecework system. An employer may have a system that measures higher quality or quantity of work. If this is the case, an employee can be paid a higher rate for producing more work or better quality work if the system is applied equally to both sexes.

Any difference that is not based on the gender of the employee. For example, an employee can receive more money for working at night. Or an employee can be paid more while participating in a well-defined training program that has as its goal the advancement of the employee within the organization.

Visit the Ontario Ministry of Labour to learn more.

*Information received from the Government of Canada’s Ministry of Labour for means of accuracy.

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