foodshare

Toronto organization to start paying job candidates for their interview time

The past two years have led to a complete redefinition of what "work" looks like for many as the pandemic has prompted job losses and career changes, a move to remote work en masse, new workplace practices and dire levels of burnout.

Employers are shifting with the times, many of them offering hybrid work-from-home models as staff slowly get back into the office, four-day work weeks and more flexibility for vacation time as people re-assess their post-COVID lives, and other perks to retain workers.

But one Toronto organization has taken things a step further with multiple initiatives to not only keep employees around, but actually make them feel appreciated — and their methods are really resonating with the public.

FoodShare, a long-running non-profit focused on solving food insecurity at a systemic level, has a new plan to start compensating candidates for their interview time, which executive director Paul Taylor posted about on social media this week to resounding response.

"Preparing for an job interview is labour and candidates may even have to take time off work to attend an interview. I'm pleased to share that @FoodShareTO will now be compensating folks ($75) for their interviews (approx. 1 hr) to join our team," Taylor tweeted on Monday morning.

He also added that "when the interview contains a presentation or assignment, the candidate will be compensated for the labour associated with the preparation of the presentation/assignment at the hourly rate association with the position they're appling for."

In 24 hours, the post garnered some 7,000 likes, nearly 1,000 retweets, hundreds of quote tweets and dozens of responses, and was also widely shared across other platforms, including on Instagram, where it sparked a ton of conversation on the topic.

People generally seem to find the move, which appears to be a first in the city, to be a complete game-changer, though it begs the question of why more employers aren't doing the same.

But, based on some of the responses from notable executives, FoodShare may not be an outlier for long.

"We have been focused on centring justice and equity in our work, not just the work we do but how we do that work... it's totally in line with our values and was just the right thing to do," Taylor tells blogTO of the decision.

"We recognize that preparing for an interview is labour that employers have long been expecting people to do for free, and that's outrageous, especially if you consider who has more resources in that equation."

Between research and preparation, taking time off work, finding and paying for childcare, commuting and more on a tight budget, Taylor points out that a paid interview can be a huge boost for job-seekers, not just in a morale sense but in a practical financial sense — it could even make the difference of where their next meal comes from.

"If employers really want to respect candidates who are interested in joining their businesses that they should be paying for that," he says. "We're looking to inspire people to rethink what's possible for the world of work and how we support healthy workers and healthy communities."

It's also not the only thing that FoodShare has done to show respect for its candidates and staff, who earn more than the living wage (no worker makes less than $24 an hour; living wage in Toronto is $22.08 while minimum wage is $15), have access to no-interest loans from the organization, and get 20 sick/wellness days and 10 personal days off per year — a pipe dream by most workers' standards under current capitalist conditions.

Employees also can't send work emails before 9 a.m., after 5 p.m. or during lunch — something provincial legislation is also finally getting behind — and the highest-paid FoodShare member can't make more than three times the amount of the lowest-paid.

"We're not seeing the kind of turnover or 'great resignation' that is happening rampantly across industries, which is a testament to some of the ways we've demonstrated that we're all in this together," the leader notes.

While FoodShare's landmark policy is definitely making some waves, it may be some time still before many CEOs step up and recognize their staff and potential future staff in such ways, though we can all have hope as the health crisis continues to make us question the standards we accepted in the before times.

"I hope some of these things become legislated and not just dependent on companies and organizations to make these decisions, because many of them won't," Taylor says.

"I hope it inspires people to call on political leaders to be a little bit more ambitious."

Lead photo by

@FoodShareTO


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