The growth of unpaid internships in Ontario's labour market is alarming. Traditionally, the highest incidents of illegal unpaid internships have been found in the glamor industries (i.e. magazine publishing, public relations, media, and fashion), but increasingly we're seeing a creep of these positions into both low-wage (i.e. hospitality, retail) and high-wage sectors (i.e. law, health-care).
Today's blog post is focused on a recent example of unpaid internships in Ontario's retail sector. Unpaid internships in the retail sector are on the rise and there has been little coverage of this disturbing trend. The example I'm using comes to us courtesy of Untitled and Co., a Queen West clothing store specializing in sexist anti-women sweatshirts, which recently posted an advertisement asking for multiple unpaid interns. Untitled and Co. is looking for: a Sales Intern, a Design Intern, a Production Intern, and a Merchandising Intern.
The advertisement targets students needing hours to graduate and recent graduates looking for experience. The advertisement discloses probable violations of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 as typically you have to pay employees the minimum wage of $10.25 per hour. Simply put, the circumstances where an employer is allowed to not pay the minimum wage are extremely limited. What Untitled and Co. are attempting to do is mostly the unholy (but common) combination of wage theft and employee misclassification.
I fail to see the educational benefits of working in retail store and this raises an issue of whether post-secondary educational institutions should be letting employers access free labour via students. Another issue that this advertisement raises is whether the Ministry of Labour needs to drastically step up enforcement efforts around unpaid internships. With unpaid internships creeping into low-wage sectors we're be seeing the decimation of the youth labour market, wages driven down, and certain sectors of the population crowded out of work altogether.
See the advertisement from Untitled and Co. below and feel free to call them at 647-748-3114 if you don't like what they're selling. Take a look at some of my previous articles about unpaid internships, see: here, here, here, and here.