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Are Unpaid Internships Legal in Ontario?

Posted by Stacey Jones


Jun 17, 2013 9:05:00 AM

college students

In light of some recent controversy over unpaid internships, we felt it was important to share a recent policy statement by the Ministry of Labour that every HR and Payroll department should be aware of.

What you need to know:

Generally, if someone performs work for another person or a company or other organization and is not in business for themselves, they would be considered to be an employee, and therefore entitled to rights under the Employment Standards Act such as the minimum wage. There are some exceptions, but they are very limited.  

Being called an intern is not relevant.

One such circumstance where a person can work as an intern for no pay concerns a person receiving training, but it has very restrictive conditions. If an employer provides an intern with training in skills that are used by the employer's employees, the intern will generally also be considered to be an employee for purposes of the Employment Standards Act unless all of the conditions below are met:

  1. The training is similar to that which is given in a vocational school.
  2. The training is for the benefit of the intern. You receive some benefit from the training, such as new knowledge or skills.
  3. The employer derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the intern while he or she is being trained.
  4. Your training doesn't take someone else's job.
  5. Your employer isn't promising you a job at the end of your training.
  6. You have been told that you will not be paid for your time.

Another exception concerns college and university programs. The ESA does not apply to an individual who performs work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or a university. This exception exists to encourage employers to provide students enrolled in a college or university program with practical training to complement their classroom learning.

For the full article click here

Topics: workforce compliance, young workers

MOL Summer Safety Blitz in Ontario - Are You Ready?

Posted by Stacey Jones


May 30, 2013 10:24:00 AM


Each summer in Ontario business owners can count on a Ministry of Labour Safety Blitz. This season is no different as the MOL plans to inspect Ontario workplaces between May 1 and August 31, 2013. The focus again is the safety of young and new workers with a special emphasis on employers in service industries, manufacturing, transportation, farming operations, logging, hotels, motels, film and television. In the health care sector, inspectors will focus on community care services and community care residences.

Young workers are aged 14 to 24. New workers are those who have been on the job for less than 6 months or existing workers assigned to a new job in the same workplace. New workers include both young workers and those 25 and older.

New and young workers in Ontario are three times more likely to be injured during the first month of employment than at any other time.

Between 2006 and 2011, 39 young workers aged 15 to 24 died in work-related incidents, according to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics. During the same period, more than 52,000 young workers suffered injuries resulting in lost time at work, according to WSIB claims statistics.

Many of the injured young workers were employed as labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities as well as retail salespeople, food counter attendants and kitchen helpers with the majority of lost-time claims occurring when the worker was struck by objects and equipment.

The Ministry of Labour is looking for non-compliance involving new and young workers, including failure of employers to inform, instruct, supervise workers and comply with minimum age requirements. In addition, inspectors will check the internal responsibility requirements are in place such as a written occupational health and safety policy, a workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representatives are appointed and JHSC meetings and workplace inspections take place.

How can you prepare?

  • Ensure your Occupational Health & Safety Manual is up to date with all current policies and procedures.
  • For companies with 6 to 20 workers, one formally trained health & safety representative must be assigned to the group.  For companies over 20 people, a full Joint Health & Safety Committee must be put into place and all regulations followed in order to meet compliance.
  • Ensure that you have put in proper procedures to deal with workplace hazards.
  • Provide workers with written measures and procedures for their protection where required by law.
  • Provide appropriate training and supervision with the understanding that many of these policies are new to these vulnerable workers and first time workers may be uncomfortable asking questions.
  • Ensure that you have met the minimum age and wage requirements set out by the Employment Standards Act.

The Payroll Edge offers a free consultation to those companies unsure of whether their policies and procedures are up to date and has the expertise to ensure compliance today and in the future. Being proactive in the safety & welfare of your workers is invaluable when compared to the fines and penalities that can occur when an MOL audit reveals noncompliance.

Ministry of Labour Backgrounder

Topics: workforce compliance, young workers, Ontario

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