• Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Print
Normandin Beaudry

The audit program of the Commission de l’équité salariale: what employers should know


There, in black and white

NB bulletin Vol. 16 N. 8, June 2013

As set out in its strategic plan for 2009-2014, the Commission de l’équité salariale (“the Commission”) has implemented an audit program intended to ensure the application of the Pay Equity Act (“the Act”) by Quebec employers subject to it.

Since the Act came into force, the Commission’s audit and investigation process was based primarily on complaints filed by employees. However, with the implementation of the Règlement concernant la déclaration de l’employeur en matière d’équité salariale in March 2011, the Commission now has access to a wealth of information that it can use to investigate, on its own initiative, employers suspected of wrongdoing.

The Commission’s intentions with respect to the measures it is taking and the means at its disposal to ensure compliance with the Act are straightforward. Videos featuring the President of the Commission, Marie Rinfret, which make the Commission’s intentions unequivocally clear, have been uploaded to and are available on the portail de l’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (French only).

As part of the audit process, the Commission has also given itself the mandate of ensuring the compliance of the work completed by employers (as the case may be, a pay equity process, a pay equity plan or a pay equity audit, hereinafter referred to as "work") and requiring corrective action when necessary. Employers who refuse to fulfil their obligations are subject to fines and prosecution. Fine amounts are set out in section 115 of the Act.

Report on pay equity

The report on pay equity (referred to as “DEMES” by Quebec government entities) is the annual reporting tool used by the Commission to conduct its audit program. This reporting requirement is separate from the requirement to demonstrate, through concrete work and postings, that the employer’s compensation practices are free of gender based discrimination. Between two deadlines to complete work, every five years, an employer’s report on pay equity is the same from year to year even though it must be filed yearly.

Various situations associated with the report on pay equity may prompt the Commission to open an audit file. These include:

  • Failure to file the report on pay equity by the set deadline.
  • Information in the report on pay equity that appears to be incorrect or false (e.g.: indicating that the company falls under federal jurisdiction when its area of activity typically falls under provincial jurisdiction).
  • Information indicating that the employer is subject to the Act but has not completed the required work within the set deadlines.
  • Information indicating that the employer filed a false report (e.g.: an update to the report on pay equity that presents information that conflicts with or is inconsistent with information contained in a previous report on pay equity).

An additional group of employers must complete pay equity work

January 1, 2014 is the deadline for the completion of a pay equity exercise for a new group of employers subject to the Pay Equity Act. Employers may be subject to the January 1, 2014 deadline for a number of reasons:

  • Employer whose enterprise was in operation on November 21, 1996:
    • with an average below 10 employees 1 between November 12, 1996 and November 20, 1997, AND
    • with an average of 10 or more employees during the 2008 or 2009 calendar year.
  • Employer whose enterprise began operations between November 21, 1996 and March 12, 2008 and whose first employee’s effective date of employment was no later than March 12, 2008:
    • with an average below 10 employees during the 12 months following the effective date of employment of the first employee, AND
    • with an average of 10 or more employees during the 2008 or 2009 calendar year.
  • Employer whose enterprise began operations after March 12, 2008 or for which the effective date of employment for the first employee was after March 12, 2008:
    • with an average of 10 or more employees during the 2008 or 2009 calendar year.

If your organization meets any of these criteria and is thus subject to the Act, the work to be completed will depend on the size of your enterprise:

1 The calculation method and excluded employees are set out in sections 6 and 8 of the Act. Please note that the calculation applies to Quebec employees only.
2 Source: Guide détaillé pour réaliser l’équité salariale et en évaluer le maintien, Fourth edition, December 2011.


Please feel free to contact us for additional information.

630, René-Lévesque Blvd. West, 30th floor
Montreal, Quebec, H3B 1S6