This post is meant as the background information for a serious labour issue, which, in the opinion of the author, requires legislative action.
I used to work for Canadian Tire (CTC further down) in their student employment program, it was at one of their distribution centres.
The conditions of employment, as were advertised on their site, were very appealing - you should be able to work 28 hours per week, 6 hours per day. You could tailor your schedule to satisfy those requirements.
The pay was $13 per hour, which was not bad for a student in the early 2000s.
However, on my first pay stub there was only $11 per hour; it turned out that $2 is withheld for every hour of work. They call it a "performance bonus".
This is a standard trick employment agencies use, they withhold some of your earnings and you get that money back if you had perfect attendance.
The agency, which was managing the temporary workforce at CTC at that time, was also withholding two dollars for every hour worked and they were paying it every three months to those who had perfect attendance.
However, if you had a perfect attendance, but left the agency before the "bonus" payment day, you would lose that money, even if you gave them a proper notice.
But it was even worse for those in CTC student employment program, as the money was being paid out only TWICE A YEAR - in May and November.
I graduated at the end of August; like all students, I was free to stay with CTC for a certain period of time (six months if I remember correctly). If one could not find a job during that period of time, he could apply to work for the agency, which was managing the temporary workforce at CTC.
While I was there, I have seen many guys leaving before the "bonus" date; quite obviously, once you graduated, you have to grab a professional position at the first available opportunity.
I heard many bitter remarks from people that they are being robbed of very substantial amounts of money through that "performance bonus", which should appropriately be called "ransom money".
They just could not believe that a company with such a significant public exposure would go so low as to rob people of their earnings in such a nasty fashion.
I have got a job offer in early November, I told them that I have three weeks left in the "bonus period" and unless I stay with CTC till that date, I am going to lose $1200.
They agreed to wait and that's how I was able to get my "Canadian Tire ransom money".
But that was not the end of the story, when I've got the money, it was some $400 less than should have been.
I told them that they have made a mistake and offered to give them copies of all my pay stubs. After that I've got the remainder.
But someone who did not bother to keep the pay stubs, would have been royally screwed by Canadian Tire. Surprisingly, many people are very careless when it comes to financial records, I have seen a great many pay stubs in garbage bins. Quite obviously, these people would not be able to prove anything.
Even though it is not spelled out, the underlying reasons for this practice of not allowing the graduating students get their "ransom money" before the scheduled payout date seems to be to save the CTC the troubles of attracting and training new applicants.
However, realistically speaking, both of those are non-issues, as they get plenty of applications from students and thus have many candidates to choose from. Plus the warehouse jobs are not rocket science, one can be trained in a couple hours and in a couple days he would be up to speed. For some jobs it is even less!
One might say that it is not easy to administer several dozen students, with many of them on different schedules, working on different days - one starts at 9 am, another at 4 pm, still another at 5:30 pm.
Obviously, it is easier to manage the "performance bonus" program with fewer payout days, but in that case they could have been deducting one dollar, which would have placed them at par in "money-grabbing terms" with the agency, that was managing the temporary workforce at that time.
But, as I have said, they were deducting TWO DOLLARS.
I am sure everybody heard stories of double-dipping in government, crown corporations, school boards - they have plenty of PAID sick leaves each year and they can even "monetize" those days, if they happened to be unused.
During a strike of outside workers employed by the city of Toronto in summer 2009 it was mentioned in the news that they were getting 18 PAID sick leaves every year and they could cash them when they retire.
Retiring teachers routinely get tens of thousand of dollars when they cash their unused sick leaves.
Private industry does not have any such perks and it is even worse with agencies and some money-grabbing corporations, with those you lose an entire "performance bonus" even if you missed a single day because you were really sick, running a fever or having some other family or medical emergency.
Even if you have a doctor's certificate, you still lose the "ransom money". I know one guy who had to go to a hospital emergency and he had still lost his "bonus".
It is true that people do not like low-end jobs, attendance can be a big problem, especially on weekends. But still, to penalize someone with hundreds of dollars for taking a day off or for leaving before the "bonus" payout day is excessive.
I believe such practices should be regulated by the government, with the allowable amount of "ransom money" not to exceed one-day earnings for any single "bonus period".