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Ontario wants to ban unpaid trial shifts at restaurants

The Ontario government tabled new legislation Tuesday to ban unpaid trial shifts at restaurants for potential new employees.

The proposed rules aim to protect hospitality workers.

Restaurants Canada, which represents the foodservice industry, is welcoming the changes.

“It’s something that has been a part of the restaurant culture for decades,” said Richard Alexander, the association’s executive vice-president for government relations and public affairs. “It’s slowly died out over the years and it’s pretty much recognized as not a best practice.”

Labour Minister David Piccini said employees are required by law to be paid for all the hours they work.

However, in some restaurants, unpaid trial shifts are still part of the interview process.

“We’re talking, doing the work you would be paid to do, so a trial shift, a full day at a restaurant for example, you should be paid for it and I think the majority of Ontarians would agree,” said Piccini.


“For the amount of money it’s going to cost to enforce this, the government might just be better off paying for the trial shifts,” said Jessie Votary, the owner of Whatever 75 in Stratford.

While she applauds the positive change, Votary thinks the government should focus on other improvements to the hospitality sector.

“As far as employee needs, I think paid sick days from the government would be great,” she said. “Hospitality has very little cushion as far as that’s concerned.”

“This is a start and we welcome feedback from workers,” explained Piccini.

When the legislature meets again Thursday the minister will address any concerns brought forward.

MORE: Proposed hospitality changes in Ontario

The legislation also outlines changes to tipping.

The law currently allows employers to pool tips if they are performing the same work as their staff members.

The new rules would require employers to tell their employees that they are doing it.

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