The NL Federation of Labor calls on government to overhaul new pay equity legislation

It’s only been in effect since October, yet Jessica McCormick believes Newfoundland and Labrador’s pay equity legislation needs to be revamped.

The leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Labor Federation says the bill the government passed was better than nothing but fell way short of a comprehensive set of laws to improve the lives of women in the workforce.

The NLFL partnered with the Equal Pay Coalition in Ontario to produce an overview and critique of the legislation, which it published earlier this week, as the government is in the middle of consultations on the regulations that go with the act.

“This process isn’t where we need to be,” McCormick said Thursday. “We need to take a step back and look at the laws and make those changes that need to be made, and then go ahead and think about regulations. But until the act is adequate, we can’t move forward.”

The legislation that passed in October only covers women working permanent jobs in the public sector. McCormick said it needs to cover women working part-time or temporary contracts in the public sector, as well as all private sector workplaces with 10 or more employees.

Recommendations on intersectionality, oversight

The first of the amendments proposed in the document published by the NLFL is to “explicitly enshrine pay equity and pay transparency as fundamental human rights in the law.”

They also call for the legislation to include trade unions at the pay equity negotiations table and develop an independent oversight agency to investigate contraventions of the law and enforce punishment.

It also calls for the government to recognize the intersectionality of pay equity issues.

“We know that the wage gap is more significant for Black or Indigenous women, racialized women, migrant women, women with disabilities,” McCormick said. “And so acknowledging that and ensuring we’re tracking that employers are tracking wage differences for those workers is really critical. And that’s missing from the legislation.”

McCormick said the NLFL has not had meetings with the provincial government yet to discuss the regulations for the act but they hope to have a sitdown before the end of the month.

“It was very frustrating not to be consulted on the legislation itself but, you know, we want to leave the door open for opportunities to provide input in the future,” she said. “This is such a critically important issue for women in the province. So we need to have input.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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