Employers across Canada could be rethinking staffing strategies as the Ontario Labour Minister vows to investigate "call-in" shifts in retail, which require employees to be on-call but unpaid.
The statement follows an Ottawa worker, who criticized retailer H&M for their practice of declaring employees “on-call”, which requires them be available but doesn’t guarantee them paid work.
Michelle Linthorne, 19, told CBC she wanted to work but didn’t have time to sit around waiting for a call. Linthorne claims she was hired by H&M at the Bayshore Shopping Centre in Ottawa.
She considered it a dream job., but has only had two shifts and wasn’t told until 7.30am whether the store would need her.
"So far they've put me on on-call shifts and told me that there is pretty much no way that I'm going to get called in, but I still need to be available for them," said Linthorne.
It’s a common complaint from the retail sector, according to Canadian Labour Congress executive vice-president Barb Byer.
"That's absolutely unfair," said Byers. "It's an unstable paycheque, it's an unstable life and furthermore a lot of those part-time workers are young and mostly women."
A statement from H&M claims “call-in” shifts are necessary because Ottawa is a new market for the retailer and it cannot predict demand. The store says it aims to provide a fair and respectful workplace where employees can speak to management about their concerns.
"The reality of our business is that we rely on part-time workers to ensure that we are able to mobilize our workforce in line with the business needs of the store," the statement read.
Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi said he would look into the practice.
"This is the first time I've heard about that kind of employment condition. I will seek advice to what kind of practice this is and what kind of impact it has on employees," said Naqvi.
Do you use call-in shifts? What policies are in place to balance work requirements and employee expectations?