What you need to know about The Canadian Employment Equity Act

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The Employment Equity Act aims to promote equality in the workplace, removing barriers to the employment of women, people with disabilities, aboriginal people, and visible minorities, including people of colour. 

The regulation is applied to three categories of industries or workplaces, which are federally regulated industries, crown corporations, and other federal organizations with 100 employees or more.

Mainly, this Act regulates the need for the referred industries and workplaces in Canada to have an equity plan to a) encourage the establishment of working conditions that are free from barriers; b) seek to correct conditions of disadvantage in employment, and c) promote the principle that it requires special measures to accommodate differences for the four designated groups in Canada.

However, there are a few key points to be aware of when applying it to the workplace’s equity plan. For example, the employer must be aware of their obligations on the Act, implementing the employment equity by:

a) identifying and eliminating employment barriers against persons in designated groups that result from the employer’s employment systems, policies, and practices that are not authorized by law; and

b) instituting such positive policies and practices and making such reasonable accommodations as will ensure that persons in designated groups achieve a degree of representation in each occupational group in the employer’s workforce that reflects their representation in

i) the Canadian workforce, or

ii) those segments of the Canadian workforce that are identifiable by qualification, eligibility, or geography and from which the employer may reasonably be expected to draw employees.

In order to implement the employment equity, the Act also determines that every employer shall:

c) collect information and conduct an analysis of the employer’s workforce, in accordance with the regulations, in order to determine the degree of the underrepresentation of persons in designated groups in each occupational group in that workforce; and

d) conduct a review of the employer’s employment systems, policies, and practices, in accordance with the regulations, in order to identify employment barriers against persons in designated groups that result from those systems, policies, and practices.

Moreover, when assembling the employment equity plan, it must:

e) specify the positive policies and practices that are to be instituted by the employer in the short term for the hiring, training, promotion, and retention of persons in designated groups and for the making of reasonable accommodations for those persons, to correct the underrepresentation of those persons identified by the analysis under the d) regulation;

f) specify the measures to be taken by the employer in the short term for the elimination of any employment barriers identified by the review under the d) regulation;

g) establish a timetable for the implementation of the matters referred to in e) and f);

h) where underrepresentation has been identified by the analysis, establish short term numerical goals for the hiring and promotion of persons in designated groups in order to increase their representation in each occupational group in the workforce in which underrepresentation has been identified and sets out measures to be taken in each year to meet those goals;

i) set out the employer’s long term goals for increasing the representation of persons in designated groups in the employer’s workforce and the employer’s strategy for achieving those goals; and

j) provide for any other matter that may be prescribed.

Finally, in terms of numerical goals, every employer shall consider:

k) the degree of underrepresentation of persons in each designated group in each occupational group within the employer’s workforce;

l) the availability of qualified persons in designated groups within the employer’s workforce and in the Canadian workforce;

m) the anticipated growth or reduction of the employer’s workforce during the period in respect of which the numerical goals apply;

n) the anticipated turnover of employees within the employer’s workforce during the period in respect of which the numerical goals apply; and

o) any other factor that may be prescribed.

Therefore, it is important for employers in corporate Canada to be aware of the Employment Equity Act, its implications, and how to apply it, focusing on inclusion and removing barriers for the designated groups to have equal opportunities at workplaces in the country.

Employers who are seeking assistance or guidance with implementing Employment Equity Act regulations can contact us for a quote here.

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