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Should I be paid for training or for working a trial shift?
The employer usually has to pay you at least minimum wage if you're:
- being trained while doing the job, or
- working a trial shift.
Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow, such as rules about minimum wage. But not all jobs are covered by the ESA.
Use the Ministry of Labour's online tool called Industries and Jobs with Exemptions or Special Rules to find out more.
The right to be paid for work
Some employers will offer you a job and say that they don't have to pay you at the beginning, while you're being trained.
And in some workplaces, such as restaurants, employers may ask you to work a trial shift for free. They may say that this is so they can decide if they want to hire you.
You might agree to work without being paid. But an employer still has to pay you for working when that’s what the law says they must do.
But there are times when an employer does not have to pay you while you're doing training.
Training you don't need for your job
If you want to do training but you don't need it for the job you're doing, your employer does not have to pay you.
For example, you might want to do training that could help you get a promotion or move to a different position.
If you're working as part of the coursework of your college or university program, the company does not have to pay you.
And if you're doing a "work experience placement" and getting a high school credit for it, for example, as a co-op student, the employer does not have to pay you.
Just because you're called an intern does not mean that you don't have rights. For example, you might have rights under the Employment Standards Act, including the right to be paid for your work.
Interns must be paid at least minimum wage unless all of the following apply:
- the main purpose of the internship is for you to learn and not for the employer to benefit from your work
- you're not taking someone else's job
- the employer hasn't promised you a job after the internship
- you were told you would not be paid
- the training you're getting is like what you would get at a trade or vocational school
So, an internship can be unpaid only if all of the above apply.