Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia seeks to bar employers from asking about past salary to curb gender wage gap

The provincial government is hoping proposed changes to the Labour Standards Code will make it harder for employers to pay women and new hires a lower salary than men doing the same type of work.

Changes would prohibit employers from asking about previous salaries, allow employees to discuss wages

Kelly Regan says women in Nova Scotia make, on average, $0.73 for every dollar earned by a man doing roughly the same job. (Shutterstock)

The Nova Scotia government is hoping proposed changes to the Labour Standards Code will make it harder for employers to pay women and new hires a lower salary than men doing the same type of work.

The amendments introduced Thursday by provincial Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis will make it illegal for employers to ask prospective employees about their last salary. It will also prohibit employers from ordering staff to keep their salary confidential.

Kelly Regan, the minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, stood alongside her cabinet colleague during a briefing on the bill to reporters.

She said women in Nova Scotia make, on average, $0.73 for every dollar earned by a man doing roughly the same job.

"Even in women-dominated sectors, men make more than women," said Regan.

'It follows them through their life'

Both ministers said that needs to change and they hope the proposed changes will spur a move toward equal pay for work of equal value.

"We know that people agree with the principle of equal pay for equal work and addressing that gap is good for the economy. It's important to have legislative and policy frameworks in place that support gender equality," said Regan.

The move to make it illegal for an employer to ask about a previous salary aims to make it harder for those employers to set a wage based on what people earned previously.

Regan said that was a question often asked of prospective employees.

"Many businesses in Nova Scotia do ask that question and they base their remuneration on what they hear instead of what they're willing to pay for the job," she said.

"And unfortunately women and new workers tend to see the effects of that and it follows them through their life."

Other changes to the Labour Code should make it easier for military reservists to get time off sooner from their civilian jobs, and may make it easier from them to get more time off to fulfil their military obligations.

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