Describing the pay equity adjustment process

Pay equity at McGill has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months in light of adjustments being paid to eligible employees. Read more »

Pay equity at McGill has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months in light of adjustments being paid to eligible employees. To date, more than 2,000 active and former employees have received an adjustment payment.

Some 300 employees attended six information sessions, held for anyone requesting further information, whether they were eligible for an adjustment or not.  Alice Kieran, Director, Total Compensation, spent an hour and a half during each session explaining how pay equity legislation has been implemented at McGill since 2001 and the methodology used. A dedicated email for additional questions has generated about 300 queries to date.

At each session, Alice described the chronology of events that have unfolded since 2001, with emphasis on the steps taken in the past 12 months to make the pay equity adjustment payments by the February 28, 2014 deadline. During the 12-month review, Alice was supported by Valérie Parsons and Karina Villar, Compensation Advisors, and by Renée Walker, who has dealt with the hundreds of incoming emails and phone calls.  Ross McDonald has recently joined the team to help with the payment of retroactive pay equity adjustments.

What is pay equity?

Pay equity legislation is aimed at redressing differences in compensation due to the systemic gender discrimination affecting employees who occupy positions in predominantly female job categories.

How is pay equity determined at McGill?

Each job category is determined as predominantly female, predominantly male or neutral. A job category is considered predominantly female if 60% or more of the incumbents are women. It is considered predominantly male if 60% or more of the incumbents are men. Otherwise, the job category is considered neutral.

Following this gender determination, predominantly female job categories are compared with predominantly male job categories, based on the “value” and the maximum of the salary scale for each job category.  This is done through statistical regression analysis. This comparison produces a pay equity curve.

What was done in 2001?

In 2001, the pay equity committee – which included representatives of all employee groups – determined the value of each job category, based on qualifications, responsibilities, physical and mental effort, and working conditions, as established by the Pay Equity Act.

A regression analysis was done of predominantly male job categories (based on salary versus value) to compare with the positioning of predominantly female job categories against the regression curve.  Predominantly female job categories falling below the curve required a salary adjustment. Predominantly male job categories below the curve were not adjusted as per the legislation.

The pay equity plan was submitted to the Pay Equity Commission and adjustments were made for eligible staff.

The regression method used for the adjustments was later disputed and a complaint was filed with the Pay Equity Commission. The methodology was examined over the years, leading to an agreement in February 2013 on how adjustments for the 2001 and 2005 exercises were to be calculated. Since then, several meetings have taken place with different employee groups to ensure mutual understanding of what is at stake with pay equity at McGill.

The 12-month review leading to adjustments

It was agreed that the University would have up to 12 months to recalculate the adjustment amounts originally paid out in 2001. Alice and her team had a major task on their hands, so they developed a plan and mapped out the process to be established. In the process, they gathered existing data going back 13 years. They also determined how to reconstruct all other historical data linked with compensation, to establish the formula to be used in the calculations.

The team had to create a list of all employees working at McGill in any type of position between the end of 2001 and the end of 2005. For certain positions, employees working at McGill between 2005 and 2009 were also retrieved. 

The team sifted through every single monthly file to extract all employees who, at one point in time, were in one of the job categories affected by pay equity. They examined regular hours, overtime, vacation pays, leaves, etc.

Examining employees’ job history

Each of these employees’ job history at McGill was also extracted, taking into account all salary increases, temporary assignments, position rematches, transfers to another position, etc.

Salary policies dating back to 2001 were reconstructed for all employee groups, taking into account the renewal of collective agreements, increases in salary scales, progression in the scale, across-the-board adjustments and merit increases, to ensure the same increase was applied to the adjusted pay equity rates.

Programming was developed by Total Compensation for each employee group. Individual files were processed on a pay-by-pay basis, checking against the 2,000 employees’ employment records.

Calculating deductions

Employee and employer contributions to the pension plan were computed retroactively, back to 2001, using the contribution rates applicable in past years, and taking into account the employee’s age at the time of payment.  Other government contributions (Québec Pension Plan, Québec Parental Insurance Program, employment insurance and income tax) were also deducted from the lump sum payment using current 2014 contribution rates.

Next steps

Discussions are currently under way with two unions about possible additional adjustments for the 2005 pay equity maintenance review, strictly due to the particularities of the salary structure for these two groups.

Next steps include producing the pay equity maintenance review as of December 31, 2010, with official postings for feedback. Pay equity maintenance reviews are required by the government every five years, which means the next pay equity maintenance review must be done as of December 31, 2015.

Clearly, pay equity will continue to be a major project for the Total Compensation team in the next few years.