Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Internships in Ontario - Know your rights

In our industry (as with many others) the offer of "working" as an unpaid intern comes up from time to time - especially during the busy wedding season.

As employers and "employees" it is important to know the law and your rights.

Here is the statement made by the Employment Standards Act of Ontario:

Internships in Ontario: What you need to know

  • Issued: June 2011
  • Content last reviewed: June 2011

There are no regulations pertaining to unpaid internships. The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)regulates paid employment relationships between employers and employees. Employees must be paid at least the Ontario minimum wage ($10.25 per hour for most employees).

An "employee" is defined under section 1 of the ESA to include a person who receives training from an employer. However, the definition excludes a trainee who is receiving training from an employer in the skills used by that employer's employees, if 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 individual.
  3. The person providing the training derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the individual while he or she is being trained.
  4. The individual does not displace employees of the person providing the training.
  5. The individual is not accorded a right to become an employee of the person providing the training.
  6. The individual is advised that he or she will receive no remuneration for the time that he or she spends in training.

Section 3(5) of the ESA also excludes "an individual who performs work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or a university" from the application of the Act.

This exclusion exists to encourage employers to provide the training that an individual enrolled in a college or university program seeks. If employers were responsible for providing ESA minimum standards for participants in these programs in the same way that they are for their employees, such placement opportunities may become limited. This could adversely affect both the students and the teaching institutions that currently benefit from these programs.

Section 3(5) of the ESA requires that a college or university approve the work to be performed under such a program, in order to help ensure that the school will give consideration to allowing placements where the learning provided is of benefit to the individual.

If someone performing work as part of an unpaid internship is unsure of whether they should be excluded from the ESA, he or she can call the Employment Standards Information Centre toll-free at 1-800-531-5551 for further information.

There are many interesting articles on the topic which you can read below:

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