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Employment Equity Act (S.C. 1995, c. 44)

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Act current to 2022-05-02 and last amended on 2021-01-01. Previous Versions

Employment Equity Act

S.C. 1995, c. 44

Assented to 1995-12-15

An Act respecting employment equity

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Employment Equity Act.

Purpose of Act

Marginal note:Purpose of Act

 The purpose of this Act is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.

  • 1995, c. 44, s. 2
  • 2017, c. 26, s. 19(E)

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

 In this Act,

Aboriginal peoples

Aboriginal peoples means persons who are Indians, Inuit or Métis; (autochtones)

Canadian workforce

Canadian workforce means all persons in Canada of working age who are willing and able to work; (population apte au travail)

Chairperson

Chairperson means the chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal; (président)

Commission

Commission means the Canadian Human Rights Commission established under section 26 of the Canadian Human Rights Act; (Commission)

compliance officer

compliance officer means a person designated as an employment equity compliance review officer pursuant to subsection 22(3); (agent d’application)

designated groups

designated groups means women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities; (groupes désignés)

members of visible minorities

members of visible minorities means persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour; (minorités visibles)

Minister

Minister means such member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada as is designated by the Governor in Council as the Minister for the purposes of this Act; (ministre)

Panel

Panel[Repealed, 1998, c. 9, s. 37]

persons with disabilities

persons with disabilities means persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment and who

  • (a) consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, or

  • (b) believe that a employer or potential employer is likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment,

and includes persons whose functional limitations owing to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace; (personnes handicapées)

prescribed

prescribed means prescribed by the regulations; (Version anglaise seulement)

private sector employer

private sector employer means any person who employs one hundred or more employees on or in connection with a federal work, undertaking or business as defined in section 2 of the Canada Labour Code and includes any corporation established to perform any function or duty on behalf of the Government of Canada that employs one hundred or more employees, but does not include

  • (a) a person who employs employees on or in connection with a work, undertaking or business of a local or private nature in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, or

  • (b) a departmental corporation as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act; (employeur du secteur privé)

representatives

representatives means

  • (a) those persons who have been designated by employees to act as their representatives, or

  • (b) bargaining agents, where bargaining agents represent the employees; (représentants)

Tribunal

Tribunal means an Employment Equity Review Tribunal established by subsection 28(1). (tribunal)

  • 1993, c. 28, s. 78
  • 1995, c. 44, s. 3
  • 1998, c. 9, s. 37, c. 15, s. 25
  • 2002, c. 7, s. 162(E)
  • 2017, c. 26, s. 19(E)

Application

Marginal note:Application

  •  (1) This Act applies to

    • (a) private sector employers;

    • (b) the portions of the federal public administration set out in Schedule I or IV to the Financial Administration Act;

    • (c) the portions of the federal public administration set out in of Schedule V to the Financial Administration Act that employ one hundred or more employees; and

    • (d) such other portion of the public sector employing one hundred or more employees, including the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as may be specified by order of the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Treasury Board, in consultation with the minister responsible for the specified portion.

  • Marginal note:Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    (2) For the purposes of this Act,

  • Marginal note:Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    (3) Members of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are deemed to be employees for the purposes of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Responsibilities of Treasury Board and Public Service Commission

    (4) The Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission, each acting within the scope of its powers, duties and functions under the Financial Administration Act and the Public Service Employment Act, are responsible for carrying out the obligations of an employer under this Act in relation to employees employed in those portions of the federal public administration referred to in paragraph (1)(b).

  • Marginal note:Deemed employer

    (5) Every portion of the public sector referred to in paragraphs (1)(c) and (d) is deemed to be an employer for the purposes of this Act in relation to employees employed in that portion except that, with respect to any of those portions for which the Public Service Commission exercises any power or performs any function under the Public Service Employment Act, the Public Service Commission and that portion are responsible for carrying out the obligations of an employer under this Act.

  • Marginal note:References to employer

    (6) In this Act, a reference to an employer is deemed, in relation to those portions of the public sector referred to in

    • (a) paragraph (1)(b), to be a reference to the Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission, each acting within the scope of its powers and functions under the Financial Administration Act and the Public Service Employment Act; and

    • (b) paragraphs (1)(c) and (d) for which the Public Service Commission exercises any power or performs any function under the Public Service Employment Act, to be a reference to the employer and the Public Service Commission.

  • Marginal note:Delegation by Treasury Board and Public Service Commission

    (7) The Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission may, for the purpose of carrying out their obligations under this Act in relation to a portion of the federal public administration or other portion of the public sector referred to in subsection (1), authorize the chief executive officer or deputy head concerned to exercise, in relation to that portion, any of the powers and perform any of the functions of the Treasury Board or the Public Service Commission, as the case may be, referred to in this section.

  • Marginal note:Delegation by chief executive officer or deputy head

    (8) Any chief executive officer or deputy head authorized under subsection (7) to exercise any of the powers and perform any of the duties and functions of the Treasury Board or Public Service Commission may, subject to and in accordance with the authorization given to that officer or deputy head, authorize one or more persons to exercise any of those powers and perform any of those duties and functions.

  • 1995, c. 44, s. 4
  • 2001, c. 34, s. 40(F)
  • 2003, c. 22, ss. 163, 236(E)

PART IEmployment Equity

Employer Obligations

Marginal note:Employer’s duty

 Every employer shall implement 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.

Marginal note:Employer not required to take certain measures

 The obligation to implement employment equity does not require an employer

  • (a) to take a particular measure to implement employment equity where the taking of that measure would cause undue hardship to the employer;

  • (b) to hire or promote persons who do not meet the essential qualifications for the work to be performed;

  • (c) with respect to the public sector, to hire or promote persons without basing the hiring or promotion on merit in cases where the Public Service Employment Act requires that hiring or promotion be based on merit; or

  • (d) to create new positions in its workforce.

  • 1995, c. 44, s. 6
  • 2003, c. 22, s. 237

Marginal note:Employment of Aboriginal peoples

 Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, where a private sector employer is engaged primarily in promoting or serving the interests of Aboriginal peoples, the employer may give preference in employment to Aboriginal peoples or employ only Aboriginal peoples, unless that preference or employment would constitute a discriminatory practice under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

  • 1995, c. 44, s. 7
  • 2017, c. 26, s. 19(E)

Marginal note:Certain rights not employment barriers

  •  (1) Employee seniority rights with respect to a layoff or recall under a collective agreement or pursuant to the established practices of an employer are deemed not to be employment barriers within the meaning of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Other seniority rights

    (2) Unless they are found to constitute a discriminatory practice under the Canadian Human Rights Act, employee seniority rights other than those referred to in subsection (1), including rights acquired under workforce adjustment policies implemented when an employer is downsizing or restructuring, under a collective agreement or pursuant to an established practice, are deemed not to be employment barriers within the meaning of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Adverse impact on employment opportunities

    (3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), where, after a review under paragraph 9(1)(b), it appears that a right referred to in either of those subsections that is provided for under a collective agreement may have an adverse impact on the employment opportunities of persons in designated groups, the employer and its employees’ representatives shall consult with each other concerning measures that may be taken to minimize the adverse impact.

  • Marginal note:Public sector

    (4) The following are not, in relation to the public sector, employment barriers within the meaning of the Act, namely,

    • (a) priorities for appointment under the Public Service Employment Act or regulations made by the Public Service Commission; and

    • (b) workforce adjustment measures established by the Treasury Board, including measures set out in agreements relating to workforce adjustment, or by the Public Service Commission or any other portion of the public sector referred to in paragraphs 4(1)(c) and (d).

  • 1995, c. 44, s. 8
  • 2003, c. 22, s. 164

Marginal note:Analysis and review

  •  (1) For the purpose of implementing employment equity, every employer shall

    • (a) 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

    • (b) 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.

  • Marginal note:Self-identification

    (2) Only those employees who identify themselves to an employer, or agree to be identified by an employer, as Aboriginal peoples, members of visible minorities or persons with disabilities are to be counted as members of those designated groups for the purposes of implementing employment equity.

  • Marginal note:Confidentiality of information

    (3) Information collected by an employer under paragraph (1)(a) is confidential and shall be used only for the purpose of implementing the employer’s obligations under this Act.

  • 1995, c. 44, s. 9
  • 2017, c. 26, s. 19(E)

Marginal note:Employment equity plan

  •  (1) The employer shall prepare an employment equity plan that

    • (a) specifies 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 paragraph 9(1)(a);

    • (b) specifies the measures to be taken by the employer in the short term for the elimination of any employment barriers identified by the review under paragraph 9(1)(b);

    • (c) establishes a timetable for the implementation of the matters referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b);

    • (d) where underrepresentation has been identified by the analysis, establishes 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;

    • (e) sets out the employer’s longer 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

    • (f) provides for any other matter that may be prescribed.

  • Marginal note:Establishment of numerical goals

    (2) In establishing the short term numerical goals referred to in paragraph (1)(d), every employer shall consider

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

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

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

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

    • (e) any other factor that may be prescribed.

  • Marginal note:Definitions

    (3) In this section, “short term” means a period of not less than one year and not more than three years, and “longer term” means a period of more than three years.

 
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