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McGill clarifies pay equity adjustments

Unions demand rationale behind calculations

As the deadline for pay equity adjustments fast approaches later this month, many McGill employees have expressed concern with salary adjustment calculations. The adjustments largely affect the salaries of McGill employees in lower-paid, female-dominated positions.

Pay equity refers to the equalization of pay between male- and female-dominated jobs performing work of similar value, as per the Pay Equity Act.

In February 2013, the University met with the Pay Equity Commission and committed to retroactively adjusting all employee salaries dating back to 2001, when the pay equity adjustments were initially introduced. This decision was made in response to a complaint filed by the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) concerning how the adjustments were initially calculated.

The retroactive adjustments, made in compliance with the Pay Equity Act, must be made by February 28, one year after the University’s agreement with the Commission.
“Those that were subject to retroactivity will receive lump sums, going back as far as 2001,” MUNACA President Kevin Whittaker told The Daily.

On February 14, the University began making retroactive payments and sending letters informing employees of the amount of the adjustments. Since then, many McGill employees have expressed dissatisfaction with the pay equity adjustments.

To start, the letters that employees received allegedly contained only the magnitude of the adjustment and no indication as to how it had been calculated.

“There are a lot of people with complicated situations who’ve moved around in positions,” one MUNACA employee told The Daily. “I guess that makes it even more complicated to track, but if you don’t have a formula […] how do you know you’re not being short-changed?”

According to an email from Association of McGill University Research Employees (AMURE) president Sean Cory, McGill told unions in an email that, “The amount of money that people received could go up or down and to keep it in mind that the money might have to be returned.”

“That upset a lot of people as there are no clear reasons why the money people received might be decreased,” he added.

Furthermore, AMURE and MUNACA only recently found out that McGill has only applied the pay adjustments to employees hired before 2005, leaving the unions displeased. “MUNACA and AMURE argue that it is the pay scales of the positions being adjusted and employees hired after 2005 should still receive the benefits of those adjustments,” Cory said.

To deal with complaints, McGill Human Resources (HR) is holding informational sessions, and will be dealing with individual concerns on a case-by-case basis.

On February 20, at one of the informational sessions provided by McGill HR, Alice Kieran, Director, Total Compensation at McGill HR, explained the formula used to calculate the adjustments.

Only female-dominated jobs – where 60 per cent or more of the employees are female – whose salaries fall below a “pay equity curve,” have their salaries adjusted. The curve is calculated by pitting job value – determined by a system that allots points based on characteristics of jobs such as qualifications and physical and mental effort – against the job’s maximum salary. McGill originally used a linear regression, which resulted in less of an adjustment for fewer jobs.

When asked why McGill has refrained from releasing the exact calculations it used for the pay equity adjustments, Kieran responded by saying that sending out specific numbers to each McGill employee was not feasible.

According to Whittaker, MUNACA will soon be meeting with McGill. “We’re still awaiting a time to meet with the University to discuss this, because they have a deadline of February 28 […] for us to come up with an agreement to cover the people that we have already identified they missed,” he said.