HootSuite Under Fire For Unpaid Internships

HootSuite’s new headquarters | BCBusiness
A meeting room in HootSuite’s new headquarters.

Days after opening its new office to the public HootSuite has come under fire over its unpaid internships.

A thread on Reddit, the popular social news site, attracted almost 500 comments after a user noticed that HootSuite had removed “unpaid” from its job listings for customer service, sales and marketing internships.
Commenters expressed concern that B.C.’s pre-eminent social media shop could be breaking B.C. employment law.
Outraged posters linked to an article by HootSuite’s VP Community Dave Olson, “My internships are (almost) always non-paid,” Olson wrote. “You are receiving free (or cheap) labour and in exchange, you should share your experience, feedback and inside tips and tactics.”

HootSuite responded to those concerned in a post on Facebook, promising that, “we’ll ensure that our hiring promises are aligned with applicable laws.”

“Nearly everyone who has participated in the internship program has found it beneficial” responded CEO Ryan Holmes in a statement. ” For example, in the last year over 50 per cent of the interns have received full-time employee positions at HootSuite.”
So is HootSuite breaking the law? The Globe and Mail notes that under provincial employment law, internships are defined as, “on-the-job training offered by an employer to provide a person with practical experience.”
However, under the B.C. Employment Standards Act, non-unionized employees must be paid minimum wage ($10.25 per hour) if they’re performing duties that would normally be assigned to a paid employee.
Ryan Holmes maintains that the overwhelming majority of HootSuite’s employees are happy with their positions, citing BCBusinessranking of HootSuite as the top company to work for in 2012.