Howl over HootSuite

Successful Vancouver-based tech startup, HootSuite yesterday announced that it will review its internship job postings following complaints over allegations made on social media site, Reddit that the company is not paying its interns.

HootSuite is a Web-based social media dashboard that helps business users and workgroups handle their Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. The company came under fire last Friday when Reddit poster Ryl denounced as illegal and exploitative, HootSuite’s practice of using unpaid interns.
The post by Ryl attracted not less than 400 comments including several from the Canadian Intern Association.
“HootSuite’s unpaid internships are almost certainly illegal in British Columbia,” said Claire Seaborn, chair at the assocaiton, in statement. “They do not appear to be part of a formal course of study to a certificate, dimploma or dgree and according to the original advertisement the intern is expected to work 40 hours per week..”
“I would like to disocurage HootSuite from simply informing candidates that contact them that these postiions are unpaid (since it is no longer in the advertisement) and encourage them instead to offer jobs to university graduates that at least provide minimum wage compensation,” she said.
On Sunday Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, responded to the Canadian Intern Association.


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“I learned about some concerns that a few of our internship postings may not be in compliance with the local laws,” Holmes wrote to the internship association. “…When we created the internship program, I believed we were doing the right thing by offering the opportunity for you people to add experience to their resume and join a Vancouver success story.”

“If we learn these internships are not compliant, we will fix it,” he said.

In British Columbia, internships are defined by law as “on-the-job-training 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 that HootSuite’s lawyers believe there may be 15 company interns in the past 12 months that “may be affected by the unpaid internship guidelines.”

He said these cases will be reviewed by the HootSuite team.

Read complete Reddit threat here


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