Suddenly, interns are very aware of labour laws. And companies that don’t follow employment standards regulations to the letter may end up in court.
Earlier this month, PROFIT columnist Laura Williams wrote about the art of ethical intern hiring after Vancouver-based HootSuite took some heat for its internship program. Williams provided tips to help businesses still looking to hire unpaid interns avoid running afoul of provincial labour legislation.
An example of the kind of fallout Williams is trying to help businesses avoid? The CBC reports that two former Bell Mobility interns have filed complaints with the government against the company, saying it broke labour laws by not paying them for work they did. “They just squeezed out of you every hour they could get and never showed any intent of paying,” one former Bell intern told CBC.
This has been building in the U.S. for a while, with a few cases of interns v. bosses cropping up last year. Cases like this prompted Megan Willett to write a story for online mag Business Insider. Her message? “Calm down, interns. You’re lucky to have a job.” Willett writes that while in a perfect world all internships would be paid, this is the real world, and those lucky enough to get a position–any position–should make the most of it. “Learn from it. Work your hardest and impress your boss. You are investing in your future career, networking with people in your chosen field, and getting hands-on experience,” she writes.
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