Ontario legislation aims to assist job applicants with new rules on salary disclosures and the use of AI in postings

Ontario legislation aims to assist job applicants with new rules on salary disclosures and the use of AI in postings

On November 6, the Ontario government announced legislation that would force employers to specify salary ranges in their open job postings, as well as to disclose the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the hiring process. 

The move aligns with a nationwide trend to push transparency in pay practices in order to rectify disparities for historically disadvantaged groups. The province of BC recently enacted their own version of this legislation, the BC Pay Transparency Act, compelling BC employers to divulge wage information in job postings and publish pay transparency reports. Other provinces, such as Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba, already have pay transparency legislation on the books.

“At a time when many companies are posting record profits, it is only fair they communicate transparently about how they pay workers,” said David Piccini, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, in announcing details of the province’s legislation.

Stephen Gleave, a Canadian labour lawyer with over thirty years of experience in protecting workers, believes in the necessity for this wave of legislation.

“It’s very important to demand transparency in pay practices. This is the right kind of trend, and I hope it will lead to a longstanding commitment to equality and to fostering an inclusive workplace,” says Gleave. 

While Ontario is only the latest province to consider rules on pay transparency, they are the first jurisdiction set to require businesses to disclose their use of AI in the hiring process. As the use of AI in matching openings with applicants becomes more prevalent, Piccini and the Ministry have emphasized the need to address the ethical, legal, and privacy concerns associated with the technology.

“AI as a hiring tool is becoming more pervasive, and it’s essential that we as a nation pass laws that protect our workers by ensuring ethical business practices and addressing potential legal and privacy implications,” explains Gleave. “I’m happy that Ontario is showing leadership with this legislation in shaping progressive employment laws and setting the right precedent for other provinces.” 

As part of the new package, the Ministry announced its intention to hold consultations regarding the potential prohibition of the use of non-disclosure agreements in settlements related to workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence. In line with the theme of transparency and increasing protections for workers, the Ministry will consider preventing businesses from shielding potential employees from sexual harassment incidents in its past.

“Removing the veil of nondisclosure agreements in workplace harassment settlements is an essential stride in terms of accountability,” believes Gleave. “These are positive developments in creating a safer and more transparent work environment. I’m looking forward to monitoring these new proposals, as will my colleagues I’m sure. I hope that as labour lawyers, we can help to implement these progressive new laws in the most impactful manner to protect workers.”