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Pay equity: communicate now or pay later!

Your Pay Equity


and your Solution

The Pay Equity Act can cost you up to 1% of payroll in adjustments and contains substantial penalties for non-compliance. Far greater expenses can result from the legal bills to defend against secret employee complaints to the Pay Equity Commission and Tribunal. However, the real cost to the bottom line flows from the resulting negative impact on employee morale and productivity of poor communications about the process you are following.

These dangers apply to all employers... not just those with between 10 and 99 employees who must comply with the Act over the next two years. And they apply on an ongoing basis. Pay equity implementation is not just a one-shot posting issue and then back to business. The Act requires just as rigorous and ongoing attention to compliance as does Bill 208, the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The key to turning compensation problems into opportunities and having on-going pay equity compliance is effective communications. The solution to your pay equity challenges is to focus on the trees of on-going pay equity implementation without losing sight of the forest of post-posting administration.


By investing in effective employee communications, (investing means allocating a specific,annual budget... not just talking platitudes) you will:

Maximize Your Opportunities by Obtaining:

* increased employee understanding

and lessened fear of a

complicated change process, * enhanced appreciation of your

competitive compensation position,

and * credible internal and external

pay equity with a reduction in

the possibility of employee


Minimize Your Problems by Dispelling:

* unrealistic expectations by

females, * unfounded fears by males, * unreasonable conflict by your

unions, * unnecessary concern and confusion

by line management, * unwanted anxiety by senior executives

and your Board, and * unwarranted anger by your

owners and the public.



Depending on the nature of your organization, the groups to whom you must communicate can include all of the following: your employees (full-time, part-time and casuals), bargaining agents, line management, senior executives, Board of Directors, owners and the public.

What do you do? Space does not permit an outline for each potential audience. However, with your employees, you can try the approaches outlined below. These are included in successful pay/internal equity implementations.

* Address the more strategic management issue of internal equity, not just pay equity legislative compliance. Supposedly minimizing implementation costs by working on only the minimums of the Act can be far more costly in the long run. The new "proportional value" approved will be law soon anyway.

* Hold initial fact-finding sessions with employees. Do not assume you know what they do not understand and need to know. Ask them! Do this only if you are willing to feed back the results honestly to everyone.

* Develop, implement and monitor a budgeted, overall pay/internal equity communication plan now. How will you know when you get there if you do not know where you are going, or if you do not have the money to pay your way? Make communicating pay/internal equity part of a comprehensive communication plan. Do not blow this one law out of perspective in your organization.

* Start communicating early and do not stop. Say it! Say it again! and then say it again! Just like they do no TV. Communicate clearly. Communicate concisely. Communicate constantly.

* Use upward, downward and lateral communication channels. Do not forget the needs of your various audiences outlined above to know what you are telling your staff.

* Start communicating employee complaints before your initial and all subsequent Pay Equity Plan postings... and then manage them.

* Use as many, and the most creative, communication tools that you can afford. But only communicate the results of comparisons and where an employee stands in your ranges face-to-face. To ignore this rule is to risk a deluge of complaints.

* Remind supervisors this is a line management, not a human resources department, communication issue and train them to do it.


Pay Equity compliance can have far greater costs to your organization than the potential 1% of payroll adjustments and the legal expenses of fighting secret complaints to the Commission. By pursuing only the minimums of the law and not internal equity, you risk great disruption to your future compensation program.

Effective communication with each of the audiences affected is the key to the least disruptive pay/internal implementation. Properly done, the communication process presents positive opportunities with significant bottom line impact that advance planning will allow you to exploit.

Gary Patton is Managing partner of Patton Associates. This human resource consulting firm assists organizations to be more successful by measurably improving the performance of their people through the implementation of better staff management practises and programs. Patton associates specializes in employee benefits, compensation/pay equity, communications and training services. Their customer relations training program "We Care" has been used to train over 190,000. Patton Associates can be reached at: 416-859-4718, Fax 416-859-4724.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Patton, Gary F.
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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