What is Pay Equity?
Pay equity – or as contained in the criteria of the Canadian Human Rights Act – is equal pay for work of equal value. It is the requirement for employers to pay employees of male and female dominated jobs the same pay when they are performing work of equal value.
Is the FI group female dominated?
Yes – the FI group is now 55.8% women and climbing. At the FI-01 level, in particular, it is 63% female.
Isn’t this the same as equal pay for equal work?
No, equal pay for equal work refers to the comparison of work that is the same or similar. For example all FI-01’s earn the same rate of pay whether male or female, as do all Engineer 1’s. However, it is not necessarily the case that the work of levels FI 1 and ENG 1 is of the same value.Pay equity requires the comparison of the rates of pay earned by male and female dominated groups for different kinds of work and, therefore, the comparison between different occupational groups.
What is needed to prove equal value?
The Canadian Human Rights Act provides that all work must be evaluated using the criteria of Skill, Effort, Responsibility and Working Conditions. These criteria are then compared to ensure that jobs that are of similar or equal value are compensated at the same rate. Furthermore, the Equal Wages Guidelines require that the classification system used to evaluate jobs must be gender-bias free. That means that all work must be considered and valued fairly. The federal public service classification system fails on both counts.
Didn’t the huge payments made to clerks and others years ago resolve pay equity?
These payments partially closed the wage gap for some occupations (however, that decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal did not apply to the FI group). Despite some payments made, the classification system has to change for work to be valued fairly. That aspect of the pay equity complaint is still being pursued.
Isn’t the equal value of work difficult to prove?
It is no more difficult than the classification decisions made every day. What is required are the tools to compare different kinds of work. The current classification system in the federal public service cannot do this, as each classification standard is different for each occupational group.
If pay equity is the law why, hasn’t it been applied?
The law is complaint-based. This means that it requires those affected by pay inequities to file complaints to achieve fairness. The government position has been to delay settlements as long, and as expensively, as possible. Nevertheless, a lot of pay equity money has been paid to federal public service employees as a result of such complaints.The federal Treasury Board worked for 12 years on the development of a new universal classification standard (UCS) that would have attempted to achieve equal pay for work of equal value for all occupational groups.
What happened to UCS?
The costs to achieve pay equity were simply more than the government was willing to pay and the Universal Classification Standard was shelved in 2002.
What is happening now?
The federal employer is faced with a barrage of pay equity complaints from unionized and non-unionized employees. There is at least one union working with the Treasury Board to develop a new approach to classification which would affect the largest occupational group in the public service.
What is ACFO going to do?
There is a Classification and Pay Equity Committee considering this issue and appropriate action. This could include lobbying the Treasury Board with respect to the problem within the FI classification standard and pay rates, it could include a bargaining demand that the Employer and ACFO work together to develop a new and fairer approach to job evaluation or it could include legal action such as a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, all of which can be done simultaneously.Further action will most certainly involve ACFO members. ACFO has already held 5 focus groups to engage, educate and seek the input of members. These have, to date, been held in Ottawa (English and French), Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal. ACFO intends to seek further input via additional focus groups, questionnaires and general input from members. Become involved, become educated and contact ACFO for more information.