Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ont Ministry of Labour says it intends to enforce "clear" employment rules as part of "blitz"

The Ontario Ministry of Labour this afternoon issued a statement about unpaid magazine (and other) internships.
Statement from Ministry of Labour re internships at magazines. 
Our government knows that investing in young people means making sure they are treated fairly on the job and we have strong rules in place to help make that happen.

Ontario’s rules are clear - regardless of your job title or what you agreed to when you started - if you perform work for somebody, you are protected under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). 
There are very few exceptions to this requirement, such as those who are in training and meet very restrictive conditions, individuals who perform work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or a university, and secondary school students performing work under a work experience program authorized by the school board. 
In December 2013, inspections of Toronto Life Magazine/St. Joseph Media and [The] Walrus Magazine were commenced to determine whether certain publicly posted positions were ESA compliant. As a result of these inspections, Compliance Orders were issued for violations of several standards: Wage Statements, Record Keeping, Minimum Wage, Public Holiday Pay and Vacation Pay. This means that, pending any appeal, the workers involved have to be paid. The inspections are ongoing and have not yet been completed. 
It is important to note that the Ministry of Labour has on-going educational outreach program and proactive inspection team to make sure both businesses and our youth are aware of these rules and Ministry’s officers already inquiry about unpaid interns during all proactive inspections.

In fact, the government invested an additional $3 million last year in proactive enforcement – hiring more inspectors and conducting more workplace inspections. 
The Ministry of Labour will be launching an enforcement blitz this spring focused specifically on internships across a variety of sectors. Any concerns regarding working arrangements can be referred to the Ministry of Labour's Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551. Information is available in 23 different languages.
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