CEO reviews the Vancouver-based social media management firm’s hiring practices and promises to pay unpaid interns

Unpaid HootSuite interns get back pay

Here’s something interns at the Vancouver social media management firm, HootSuite can hoot about.

After dealing with a social media storm over his company’s practice of not paying its interns, HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes yesterday announced that all unpaid interns of the firm will be offered “full payment, including interest incurred.”
In an email to the Vancouver Sun, Holmes said the offer was being extended to interns that had been with the company within the last six months that were not given payment by HootSuite.
Holmes said he came to this decision after he learned that HootSuite had unpaid internship positions posted on its Web site that “may have been in contravention of the Employment Standards Act of BC.”

HootSuite is a Web-based social media dashboard that helps business users and workgroups handle their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media accounts. The company, which was founded in 2008, quickly rose to fame and by 2012 was reported to have around 200 employees and was valued at over $500 million.

HootSuite came under fire in early April when Reddit poster Ryl denounced as illegal and exploitative, HootSuite’s practice of using unpaid interns. The post led to hundreds of other posts criticizing HootSuite’s treatment of its interns.

Claire Seaborn, chair of the Canadian Intern Association, also wrote an open letter calling on HootSuite to reconsider its practices since not paying interns is unlawful in B.C.

Internships are considered “on-the-job-training” in the province” offered by an employer to provide a person with practical experience.

Often internships are offered to persons who have completed a diploma or degree program and are seeking employment,” according to the Employment Standards Act and Regulations. “…If the duties performed by interns fall within the definition of ‘work’ contained in the Act, the intern falls within the definition of ‘employee’ and the agency using the services of an intern falls within the definition of ‘employer’, internship will be considered ‘work’ for the purposes of the Act.”

Holmes said HootSuite will continue its internship program and ensure that future internship positions are compliant with the Employment Standards Act of B.C.

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