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Arbitrator finds employees must participate in job information collection and be compensated for their time

January 12, 2022

In a pay equity win for the union, an arbitrator has held that employees must participate in, and be compensated for, job information collection


The Power Workers Union, CUPE Local 1000 grieved that the employer, Toronto Hydro, had breached its pay equity obligations. A process had been established between the parties for addressing pay equity concerns, but a dispute arose as to the employer’s obligations in collecting the job information necessary to compare male and female job classes.

The Arguments

Toronto Hydro framed the dispute as a narrow issue over whether it was required to provide employees paid time off work to participate in the job information collection process. It argued that it had the discretion to determine how job information was to be collected, and that there was no legal basis in the Pay Equity Act or elsewhere to require it to collect job information directly from incumbents in the position. In particular, it placed reliance on the job descriptions as the main source of job information. Toronto Hydro also stated that it would consider information voluntarily offered from incumbents and brought forward by the Union. It also argued that there was no obligation to pay incumbents to participate in the process.

The Union argued that in the absence of other adequate sources of job information, collecting the required information directly from incumbents was necessary. Here, the job descriptions were outdated and contained incomplete information that was insufficient for the purposes of pay equity. The Union argued that under the Act, Toronto Hydro had a duty to collect sufficient and accurate information to value and compare the male and female job classes, even if the Act did not proscribe a particular method of collecting information. It also argued that if information was to be gathered from incumbents, they ought to be paid for their time, and that financial hardship is not recognized by the Act as a justification for an employer to fail to fulfill its pay equity obligations.

The Decision

Arbitrator Gedalof accepted the Union’s arguments. He accepted that although the Act did not require any one method of collecting job information, employers are held to a standard of “correctness, accuracy and completeness” in the manner they go about collecting this information. Arbitrator Gedalof made note of the fact that the caselaw emphasized that the best source of information on job requirements are the incumbents in the jobs themselves.

With these general principles in mind, Arbitrator Gedalof found that Toronto Hydro’s proposed methodology did not satisfy the requirements of the Act. The job descriptions were insufficiently comprehensive and were not directed towards addressing all of the factors required to be considered under the Act. As a result, they could not serve as a comprehensive source of job information. He also agreed at the ad hoc approach of considering any incumbent “feedback or input” that the Union wished to provide was wholly inadequate and did not provide any assurances that the information collected would be complete and consistent.

Therefore, Arbitrator Gedalof found that Toronto Hydro was required to supplement the information contained in the job descriptions with information to be provided by at least a representative subgroup of job incumbents, solicited in a systematic and consistent manner.

As to the question of compensating incumbents for their time spent participating in this process, Arbitrator Gedalof found that the answer lay in the basic proposition that employers must pay employees to work for them. Because Toronto Hydro was required to solicit information from incumbents on a systematic and non-voluntary basis to meet its obligations under the Act, Toronto Hydro was requiring its employees to perform work. They therefore must be paid in accordance with the collective agreement.


Simran Prihar, Emily Denomme

Practice Areas

Pay Equity