Equal pay for similar work


A printable PDF version of this information sheet is available.

The Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act) prohibits discrimination based on the ground of gender.

Section 6(1) of the Act states: "Where employees of both sexes perform the same or substantially similar work for an employer in an establishment the employer shall pay the employees at the same rate of pay." Any pay differentials must be based on factors other than gender.

Job descriptions or classifications should reflect the total expectations of a position. In Alberta, different job descriptions for two similar positions do not legally justify a pay differential because one job is held by a man and the other by a woman. Section 6(2) of the Act specifies that an employer should not reduce an employee's rate of pay to equalize pay rates between women and men.

Employers are entitled to pay employees different rates of pay based on factors such as experience, education and merit. These factors should be assessed objectively and applied consistently regardless of gender.

In Alberta, it is the employer who is responsible for ensuring non-discriminatory employment practices. The employer must ensure that employees are hired, promoted, paid or dismissed according to objective guidelines, applied equally to both sexes.

Please note: A complaint must be made to the Alberta Human Rights Commission within one year after the alleged incident of discrimination. The one-year period starts the day after the date on which the incident occurred. For help calculating the one-year period, contact the Commission.

March 2012

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Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to complaints of discrimination by email. Please contact the Commission by phone or regular mail if you have a specific complaint.

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