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Reading Your Pay Stubs

Does your company discourage employees from discussing pay? Employers may not like when employees talk about wages but they can’t actually mandate or enforce policies that specifically prohibit it. Unfortunately, the traditional stigma against discussing pay among coworkers is a scenario that plays very much in employers’ favor. If you don’t know what your coworkers make, then it will be much harder for you to gauge what your own services are worth, which tilts the negotiating table against you. 

But the conversation needs to be a little bit broader. Sometimes, but not always, employers who don’t want their employees to discuss wages might be disguising a history of discriminatory or unfair pay practices. Even among well-meaning employers, subconscious bias and historical trends often mean that our reticence to talk about money results in a self-perpetuating engine of wage gaps.

In fact, federally regulated workplaces with more than 10 employees are now subject to the Pay Equity Act, which requires employers to establish a plan to identify and close gaps in pay between genders. You can expect provincial legislation to soon follow suit.

These changes can’t come soon enough, as Canadian Income Statistics from 2021 state that women still earn an average of 89 cents for every one dollar that a man earns. Those statistics are even worse for Indigenous Canadians, earning roughly 70 cents compared to their Non-Indigenous Canadian counterparts.

For companies, being transparent with your pay practices builds trust with both current and future employees while helping to properly level the playing field for all Canadians. For employees, talking about your pay gives you a better seat at the negotiating table and ensures not only that you are paid fairly, but that your family, friends, loved ones, and of course coworkers, are paid fairly as well. 

In the ongoing efforts to recruit the best and brightest, companies are usually quick to advertise about their culture, benefits, and perks because those are the parts we’re likely to share with each other. Maybe it’s time for us to start talking about our pay as well. Maybe it’s time for the rising tide to actually lift all boats.

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