Just as dentists in Ontario are becoming accustomed to the new employment laws that took effect over the past few months, the Ontario government has now passed even more laws that will impact how dentists.
On May 7, 2018, the new Pay Transparency Act received Royal Assent and officially became law in Ontario. The new provisions in the law come into effect on January 1, 2019, so the government has given employers about seven months to get their affairs in order.
In short, this new law will force employers to disclose compensation details to all prospective employees, along with some other important changes.
Here’s what dentists need to know about the law when it comes into effect:
- Employers cannot ask prospective employees about their compensation history;
- But, there are some loopholes:
- employees can voluntarily give compensation information, and employers can rely on that information
- an employer can seek out compensation information for comparable positions
- historical/public information about compensation can be used by the employer
- But, there are some loopholes:
- In any publicly advertised job posting, the employer must include either the expected compensation, or a range of expected compensation
- This includes anything that is public, but does not include “recruitment campaigns, general help wanted signs, or positions that are only advertised to existing employees.”
- Employers (and anyone acting on their behalf) will be prohibited from intimidating, dismissing or penalizing employees for, among other things, making inquiries about the employee’s compensation, disclosing their compensation, or asking the employer to comply with the Pay Transparency Act and accompanying regulations
- Any complaints of an employee about the employer potentially breaking the law can be dealt with through filing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board
- At that complaint hearing, it is up to the employer to show they did not break the law (not the other way around)
- Compliance officers of the Ministry of Labour are permitted to complete an audit of an employer’s compliance with this law, and can enter the employer’s workplace without a warrant and collect information on compliance with the law
- Preventing or hindering the compliance offer to complete their audit is prohibited
- Refusing the answer relevant questions or provide relevant information is also prohibited
- Those same compliance officers can issue notices of contravention to an employer
- The penalties can include financial penalties, or orders of compliance
- Any notice of contravention of the law must be issued within one year after the last incident occurred, otherwise it is void.
Another provision in the law that does not affect most dental offices in Ontario is this other onerous provision:
- Large employers (a business with over 250 employees, and in a couple years, 100 employees) must submit to the government a “pay transparency report” that contains information about the workforce and compensation (pay differences in gender or other characteristics that the government has not yet set)
- Employers must also make these annual reports public in the workplace (like the current ESA Poster)
What This Means for Dental Offices in Ontario
This new law, along with the newly effective Equal Pay for Equal Work laws, are forcing dentists to take a closer look at all of their hiring and human resource practices. There are now more positive obligations on the part of employers to disclose certain information, undertake a review of wages, and disclose wages to prospective employees.
Does this new law mean that employees can freely discuss their compensation with each other if the dental office’s policy is that compensation is not discussed? That is yet to be seen.
But in any event, the new provisions in the Pay Transparency Act come into effect on January 1, 2019, so the government has given employers about seven months to review their practices and update their policies for the new year.
DMC LLP helps dentists with all their human resources, employment law, and employment litigation needs. Contact us if you have any questions.