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Normandin Beaudry

Pay equity: mandatory report on pay equity for employers behind in their work

There, in black and white

NB Bulletin Vol. 15 N. 6, April 2012

Employers behind in their work to ensure compliance with Quebec’s Pay Equity Act (“the Act”) are wondering how to tackle the report on pay equity (referred to as “DEMES” by Quebec government entities). Let’s examine this question.

Since March 1, 2011, employers with six or more employees are required to complete an annual report intended to provide to the Commission de l’équité salariale (“the Commission”) information on the application of the Act in their organization. The Commission is the sole possessor of this information, which it will also use to guide its audit efforts in relation to employers that failed to complete their pay equity work on time.

Increased risk of investigation for 2012

The Commission’s 2010-2011 management report indicates that its audit initiatives in 2012 will be guided by the information contained in the report on pay equity and on complaints submitted by employees. This will increase the risk of an audit at non-compliant employers. The Commission plans to conduct thorough audits beginning in the fall of 2012.

The content of the mandatory report clearly identifies to the Commission the filer’s compliance status on the basis of its obligations under the Act. Failure to file a report and the filing of a false report constitute infractions. What should an employer do when it finds itself in this type of situation?

First, note that the report on pay equity must be filed at least once a year. An employer also has the option of filing a second report during the same year, to submit the results of its pay equity work. For audit purposes, the Commission uses the most recent report filed by the employer.

The Commission sends personalized letters to employers reminding them of their deadline for filing the report on pay equity. This suggests that the Commission is able to identify employers that failed to file the report on pay equity on time.

It is better to file a report indicating that the employer is behind in its work than to not file a report

An employer should file its report on pay equity within the set time limit even if it is behind in its pay equity work. The information contained in the report on pay equity should reflect the facts concerning the actual status of the pay equity file.

When the employer finishes its pay equity work, including the mandatory posting(s) set out in the Act, it should file a new report on pay equity containing the updated information. It is better to file a report indicating that the employer is behind in its work than to not file a report on pay equity for fear of confirming said delay.

With respect to the filing of the report on pay equity only, the following situations represent a relatively higher to lower risk of an employer investigation conducted by the Commission that could result in a fine, as set out in the Act:

  • No report on pay equity filed within the set time limit;
  • A report on pay equity filed on time but indicating that the employer has not completed the required pay equity work; and
  • A report on pay equity filed on time but indicating that pay equity work was completed after set time limits had expired.

A complaint submitted to the Commission by an employee constitutes another event that could result in an intervention and be subject to the same fines as those applicable to the report on pay equity. This risk should also be carefully assessed.

For more information on the fines applicable to a contravention of the Act, please refer to paragraph 2 of section 115 of the Act.
 

 

Please feel free to contact us for additional information.

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Montreal, Quebec, H3B 1S6