Other Important Legislative Changes Affecting Quebec Employers

2018 is an important year for Quebec employers in terms of legislative changes which have an impact on the workplace. In addition to significant amendments to the Act respecting labour standards, key provisions of the Pay Equity Act have been struck down and recreational cannabis will be legalized across the country in the coming months.

Pay Equity Act

On May 10 of this year, the Supreme Court1 concluded that several provisions of the Pay Equity Act2 relating to the maintenance of pay equity were unconstitutional and therefore invalid.

Under the Pay Equity Act, employers subject to the Act must complete a pay equity maintenance assessment every 5 years. However, according to the Pay Equity Act, when the maintenance assessment reveals an omission to maintain pay equity during this 5-year period, employers are required to pay salary adjustments for the future only.

More specifically, the appeal to the Supreme Court concerned the following provisions relating to the maintenance of pay equity:

Section 76.5 adjustments to remuneration plus interest following a maintenance assessment shall only apply from the date of posting; Section 76.3: the posting of the maintenance assessment does not need to include the date on which the pay inequity arose; Section 103.1, par. 2: salary adjustments for the period prior to the posting of the maintenance assessment cannot be claimed from employers unless it is determined that an employer acted "in bad faith or in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner". According to the highest court of the country, which upheld the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal, these provisions perpetuate a disadvantage for women by allowing status quo where there is pay inequity, and granting amnesty to employers for the period preceding the maintenance assessment (i.e. a period of up to 5 years).

The legislator has one year from the date of this decision to amend these provisions of the Pay Equity Act relating to the maintenance of pay equity.

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