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In Canada can an employer require its employees not to discuss wages (either internal or external of the company)? What if the employee signed a confidentiality agreement where they agreed not to discuss wages? I would really appreciate citation from authoritative sources.

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In Canada can employer force employees not to discuss wage?

Not in Ontario. That would violate Section 74(1) of the Employment Standards Act, 2000:

No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall intimidate, dismiss or otherwise penalize an employee or threaten to do so,

(a) because the employee,

(v.2) discloses the employee’s rate of pay to another employee for the purpose of determining or assisting another person in determining whether an employer is complying with Part XII (Equal Pay for Equal Work)

See also Section 74.12(1)(a)(v.2).

What if the employee signed a confidentiality agreement where they agreed not to discuss wages?

The agreement would be void in that regard. See Section 5 of the same Standards:

[...] [N]o employer or agent of an employer and no employee or agent of an employee shall contract out of or waive an employment standard and any such contracting out or waiver is void.

The allowed exceptions are any clauses that provide a greater benefit to an employee than the employment standard (see 5(2)).

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    I'll note this law is specific to Ontario. The OP does specify that as their province of interest in the tags, though, so it's a good answer. It's just not in the text of the post itself, which seems to ask about Canada in general, if anyone else gets briefly confused. Jun 25, 2019 at 17:30
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    @zibadawatimmy Thanks for highlighting that. Yes, the title and post read Canada, although the tag Ontario was there from the start, which is why I searched for Ontario statutes (as opposed to Quebec or British Columbia, for example). On this issue, it is very likely that other Canadian provinces have a similar legislative provision, as is the case with multiple jurisdictions in the US. Jun 25, 2019 at 19:43
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    @IñakiViggers I'm really not sure if it's that uniform across the provinces. I think you should specify somewhere in this answer that you are basing this off an act that only applies provincially in Ontario. The wording completely implies that this is Canadian law, not specific to Ontario.
    – JMac
    Feb 26, 2021 at 14:31
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I know this question is a few years old, but I found the answer above when searching a similar question (also for Ontario) and I wanted to share my findings, as I think the accepted answer is incomplete and may be wrong in some cases.

Part XII of the Employment Standards Act is the Equal Pay for Equal Work section, which states (emphasis is mine):

Equal pay for equal work 42 (1) No employer shall pay an employee of one sex at a rate of pay less than the rate paid to an employee of the other sex when...

So it seems that, if the people discussing wages are of the same sex, then prohibiting discussing wages between them would not violate Part XII of the act, and therefore may be permitted. Part XII Subsection 2 states:

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply when the difference in the rate of pay is made on the basis of

  • (d) any other factor other than sex. 2000, c. 41, s. 42 (2); 2017, c. 22, Sched. 1, s. 26 (1); 2018, c. 14, Sched. 1, s. 8 (1).

According to the act, reprisals for disclosing an employees pay is only prohibited if the purpose of disclosing the rate of pay is to determine whether there is a disparity in rate of pay between employees of opposite sexes related to Part XII. If this condition is not met because the comparison is between employees of the same sex, then reprisals would not violate Part XII.

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  • That section only is about that you may not pay Alice more than Bob because she is a woman. You may pay her more because she is a manager and he is not. RElevant is 74(1), which bans trying to stop employees from discussing their wages
    – Trish
    Mar 5, 2022 at 9:11
  • Yeah, that's what I was pointing out. That section is what the original answer pointed to as a reason that prohibiting discussion of wages would violate the act, which it wouldn't except in specific circumstances. Mar 7, 2022 at 5:03
  • You seem to misconstrue it: Both rules apply simultaneously: 42: You can't pay a person less for their gender. 74: You can't stop people from talking about their wages.
    – Trish
    Mar 7, 2022 at 8:12
  • 74 is not a blanket statement saying "You can't stop people from talking about their wages". It says you can't stop people from discussing wages IF the discussion is "for the purpose of determining or assisting another person in determining whether an employer is complying with Part XII (Equal Pay for Equal Work)". It's very specific in it's wording and is clear that it only applies if the discussion is to make sure the employer isn't paying someone of one sex more than someone of another sex, solely based on their sex. No other scenarios protect discussion of wages under the act. Mar 8, 2022 at 17:10

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