A pay scale helps to plan ongoing reasonable compensation for Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) and Assistants. It provides a salary structure and a predictable path for staff compensation. A centre can increase staff recruitment, satisfaction and motivation by having an open, fair and equitable pay scale that is used consistently.

Research in child care has shown that the training, experience and stability of caregivers are key determinants of quality of care. The development of a fair pay scale supports adequate compensation for staff which can provide stability to the workforce and determines how staff will receive increases to compensation over time.

It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors/operators to represent the centre as a whole and to make financial and policy decisions that support a stable, high-quality program.

A pay scale:

  • is a way of clearly communicating to staff how they will progress in their salary level within a job category based on years of service and/or on other defined criteria
  • can provide staff with confidence that staff are treated fairly and equitably within the organization
  • can provide an incentive for staff in a certain position to advance to more highly-paid positions through additional education or experience
  • can provide a framework for operators to achieve and maintain reasonable salaries for RECEs and assistants to enhance recruitment and retention
  • allows operators to better project costs and plan budgets

Pay Scale – A pay scale is a matrix that defines the salary range for positions in an organization: the base or starting salary, the increments or grids and the top salary.

The pay scale provides the structure to determine how to compensate employees considering things such as the position, their past work experience and education; and seniority within the employer’s organization.

It is part of broader strategic planning for a centre that must be considered in context of revenues and expenses including reasonable fees to support reasonable salaries, which in turn support quality.

It is more effective when it is well-designed, available and transparent to staff and used consistently. Unionized workplaces have a pay scale that is negotiated as part of their collective agreement.

Reasonable Salary – A reasonable salary is one that reflects the education and responsibilities required of the position.

Reasonable Fee – A reasonable fee is one that reflects the cost of operating the service on a per-space basis.


The pay scale should outline progressive levels of pay for program staff positions.

Centres providing child care services must consider many factors when establishing compensation levels for program staff including:

  • Fees paid by parents
  • Enrolment stability
  • Operating funding
  • Operating costs, including rent
  • Pay equity obligations

Specific Considerations

Develop a pay scale unique to your centre considering:

  • Staff training and experience
  • Job descriptions and responsibilities
  • Number and type of program staff
  • Salary obligations such as pay equity and benefit costs
  • Current hourly rates/annual salaries and proposed salary ranges
  • The annual budget process as based on a review of the fees charged to families, reasonable operating costs and competitive salaries
  • Approval and monitoring process by the Board/Operator

Pay Scale Implementation

Once a pay scale has been developed, a pay scale implementation plan is needed. Consider the following:

  • Progressive levels of pay for eligible staff positions
  • Pay scale harmonization plan – how to align current salaries when implementing a new pay scale
  • Current fees charged to families and operating costs
  • How to achieve and/or review the pay scale every year
  • General Operating Funding (GOF) funding available
  • How the new pay scale will be communicated to staff
  • Plan/policy that clearly defines how staff can progress through the salary range for their position
  • Determine whether to include annual increases (such as rate of inflation increase) as part of your normal operations
  • Ensure the most current pay scale is easily accessible to all staff and its purpose and procedures for progressing through their salary range are included

A pay scale typically has the following features:

  • Steps that define salary progression from lowest to highest hourly or annual rates of pay
  • A defined percent increase per step
  • A defined percent gap between the lowest and highest steps for a position
  • Different increments or pay rates for positions with different job descriptions and responsibilities (e.g. supervisor, RECE, assistant, housekeeper, cook, etc.)
  • A gap between the highest salary in one position relative to the lowest salary in the next highest position to reflect the different job responsibilities and training, etc.