There's a youth exploitation industry in Toronto and I want to introduce everyone to its newest entrant: Springtern. I recently stumbled upon this company, founded by Ben Wise and Ronald Lam, and was floored by the unabashed exploitation that it's perpetrating against young workers. Springtern's business model is simple: it advertises jobs directed at students and young workers for companies. There's just one hitch: few, if any, of the jobs advertised on Springtern are paid positions.
The law in Ontario (and the rest of Canada) is quite clear. If a person is performing work for a for-profit (or non-profit in most jurisdictions) enterprise then they must be compensated for their labour at the rate of the minimum wage or higher. Simply put, an employer cannot contract out of employment standards legislation via an agreement with an employee. At the core of Springtern's business model sits the illegal practice of contracting out of the social minima contained in employment standards statutes.
Springtern attempts to subvert the "problem" of employment standards by attempting to frame the advertised jobs as "volunteer" positions and by using an "Intern Waiver of Liability Form" that states the interns will be paid only in the "experience and training gained by working". The foregoing is a mildly creative attempt at contracting out of employment standards, but still incredibly at odds with core principles of Canadian employment law and the current case law on unpaid labour. The companies using Springtern's services are setting themselves up for litigation given the rather blatant flouting of the prevailing employment standards law.
Now what kind of companies would enter into such an arrangement? Take a look at the listings on Springtern's website. The companies listing "jobs" on Springtern seem to be a smattering of small fly-by-night Internet marketing and social media outfits. While some of the jobs are relatively small, others require 500+ hours to complete (check out the particularly egregious ones from RaeAllan aka Bobby Umar). All of the jobs posted are unpaid and call for duties that employees are typically paid to complete. None of these practices are normal, rather what's being framed as opportunities for youths is really nothing more than gussied up slave labour.