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"Get busy" on pay equity, co-ordinator advises.

"Get busy" on pay equity, co-ordinator advises

The clock is ticking towards pay equity for many private-sector companies.

In fact, the time has already come for private-sector employers with 500 or more employees. They had to begin making wage adjustments as of Jan. 1.

They joined the public sector, which began adjusting wages as of Jan. 1 1990.

Next come private-sector employers with 100 to 499 employees. They had to post their pay equity plans by Jan. 1, and will have to make wage adjustments by Jan. 1 1992.

"A lot of people are behind schedule, as if they're hoping it (the legislation) will go away," says Patricia Kallio, equity co-ordinator at Cambrian College in Sudbury.

Her advice to companies: "Get busy and do it."

Kallio notes that failure to comply could mean a fine up to $25,000.

If a company does not act on its own, the Pay Equity Commission will appoint someone to draw up a pay equity plan, and the company will have to pay the expense of that person.

Kallio also warns that it may take longer to draw up a pay equity plan than some companies think, and they should get the needed information quickly.

She strongly recommends that companies set up committees of management and employees.

Most employees are highly suspicious of a management "scheme" for pay equity, because it appears to be cloaked in secrecy, she adds.

"The law says the employee has to agree with it," she notes, adding that if employees are involved in the process from the beginning, there is no suspicion created.

Kallio suggests that committees include credible employees who are trusted by the other workers.

When everything is done properly, the process is not difficult, she says. In fact, Kallio believes it can be straight-forward if there is an understanding of what is required.

At Cambrian College, for example, Kallio notes that there were no problems during the process, and very little salary adjustment after the plan was completed. The involved employees were also satisfied with the plan, with only one person coming to Kallio for some further clarification.

Kallio says she has noticed that many companies and unions are going about negotiating pay equity as if it were a collective agreement in itself.

"A lot of people are struggling with it and making a lot of assumptions based on the usual collective bargaining adversarial roles," she says. "You have to work together on this one."

If the result is challenged, it can really feed distrust, she says.

"This is the only piece of labor legislation where an individual union member can bypass the collective agreement and challenge it as an individual," Kallio notes. "They can also do it anonymously."

However, she says if an employer and employees work through pay equity together, it could be an exercise in goodwill and team-building.

Kallio has been officially designated by the Pay Equity Commission as the training officer in the Sudbury Region.

She is one of 22 people who have been trained and licensed by the commission to do training sessions at the province's community colleges.

Kallio notes that these are the only people that the commission trained and keeps up to date on developments regarding the legislation.

The officially trained experts receive information that private consultants cannot get their hand on, she notes, warning that she knows of cases in which private consultants provided inaccurate information.

LOWER COST

Kallio claims companies can hire a commission-designated instructor for a fraction of the cost of a consultant. The Pay Equity Commission has set a moderate fee of $175 per day for its official instructors, she says.

"The Pay Equity Commission has never trained any consultants that I know of," Kallio adds

PHOTO : Patricia Kallio, equity co-ordinator at Cambrian College in Sudbury, has been trained by the Pay Equity Commission to instruct companies on how to achieve pay equity.
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Title Annotation:Patricia Kallio tells private-sector employers to begin making wage adjustments
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:648
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