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Ontario to ban unpaid trial shifts and revise restaurant tipping rules

Ontario is set to explicitly prohibit unpaid trial shifts for workers in the restaurant and hospitality sector with additional regulations on restaurant tipping.

The Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development David Piccini, announced the forthcoming changes on Tuesday.

Piccini said that while it is already the law that employees must be paid for all hours worked, unpaid trial shifts are still happening as part of the interview process in some restaurants, so the practice will be specifically prohibited.

"If passed, our legislation would require employers to post in the workplace if they have a policy of sharing and pooling tips, something that is only allowed if they perform the same work, of course as their staff," Piccini said.

Restaurant tipping holds significance in Canadian dining culture, with hardworking staff relying on tips as income.

The forthcoming regulations also aim to eliminate unpaid trial shifts and strengthen rules against deducting employee wages in the event of customer theft.

Mike Vorobej, a former waiter with over 30 years in the service industry, emphasizes the importance of tips for covering bills.

"It's still the lowest paid job in the province, and you need those tips to pay your bills,” he said.

Vorobej says all voluntary tips should be going to the servers, not the owners of the establishment.

“What we have is a situation today, which I think is just a gross violation of the spirit we have in Canada, which is tipping,” said Vorobej.

“Because a lot of countries don't have tipping. It's something we do here. Almost everybody tips. But nobody tips the boss. Nobody tips the company.”

Ivan Gedz, owner of Union Local 613 on Somerset Street said that these are practices that have been going on in restaurants for ages now.

Under current rules, owners are allowed to collect tips if they perform the same duties as employees. However, Gedz says that he returns all tips he receives to his staff.

"Even when I do serve, and I'm very clear about that, if let's say that week I was involved in service for some reason, I'll say, 'No, I am not part of that tip.” Gedz said.

Richard Alexander, vice president of Restaurants Canada, said he supports the policy of banning deducting employee wages for theft but said he has yet to meet a restaurateur who is doing so.

“I'm sure that there may be operations out there doing that, but it is definitely not a best practice. And we are definitely completely opposed to that."

Mike Vorobej advocates for a more transparent industry, saying that openness benefits everyone involved in the tipping process.

"Everyone who pays the tip, collects tip, and everything in between should be open and aboveboard," he said. Top Stories

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