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My Real Time, Story as apart of the Working Poor Group from Dec 2016 - 2017 +

by Mike_S,

A little history about me I've been living below the poverty line for over 30 years.

My story will start from last year 2016, in real time to June 2017 + and I'll update it as things and time change.

Last year 2016 in Dec, the place I was working was shutting down for the winter. I quit to move closer to town as I was living in a remote area and travel into the city was not always available . Because I quit and had savings I did not qualify for Employment Insurance or Social services .

Because of my situation of having rent covered as a part of my work situation I was able to save over 20 K over 3 years and put half of that towards securing a dentist. leaving me with 10 K to live off of . The 10 K I put down on the dentist was enough to get the huge amount of work done that I needed including dentures.

I left the job as it was going to be shut down for 6 months anyways to head to a bigger town where I could get my dentistry done and look for work. with my savings I budgeted 1k per month to live off of giving me about 10 months of living from Jan - Oct , with the idea of getting a job before I ran out of my savings .

I had to pay for an extra course to get a certificate to get employment which was an unexpected cost, as these courses are not covered for working poor unless they are in a program, that they have to be unemployed to qualify for or in a certain group . Anyways from Jan to May I was doing volunteering to have a working reference and upgrading my resume.

I finally found some work, at the end of may, at min wage which is currently $10.85 hr. It's June 2017 now and I've been working steady for a couple weeks so far. I was excited but after the first week some things have come up that I have to question.

1rst The staff is working over 5 hours with only a short break of 15 mins and most days are 7 hours + long with only a 15 min break. Labor law says that a 30 min unpaid break has to be taken after 5 hours .

2nd, we were given a uniform that the employer expects us to keep clean at our expense. ( If an employer requires an employee to wear a uniform or special clothing, the employer must provide, clean and maintain it at no cost to the employee.) this cost me $5 dollars a day for laundry . I've been working every day now for the last 2 weeks straight with a cost of $70 in laundry so far to me.

This is a large organization and there are 1000's of people and they are all ok with this. I feel I risk the chance of getting let go if I was to mention to management these labor law infractions . Without having passed the probationary time the company doesn't have to give a reason to let me go.

Do I get an advocate for support ? I don't want to work for a company that I had to pressure to get my basic employee rights taken care of , that just makes for a very uncomfortable working environment. Yet at the same time I'm caught with only enough savings to live off of for about 3 more months, and no chance at getting EI or Social Assistance if I get let go. I've sent an email to head office asking about their employee policies on breaks and uniforms and am waiting for a response.

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janet7873 over 4 years ago
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janet7873 over 4 years ago
Typical. I too have a uniform I must maintain (though I get almost no hours) - Did not know that - thanks for info. And re breaks - while my seasonal jib is a farm with low wages & no overtime they are AWESOME with breaks. Like clockwork every 2 - 3 hours. You deserve better
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Author Commented Mike_S over 4 years ago
Update June 2017, After sending in an email to head office, as an observation of working over 5 hours without a 30 min break and uniforms that are to be cleaned at the employees expense, I seen that I was no longer posted for any shifts . What the company did do was approach me to ask if I wanted to change my duties and shifts . My duties would allow me to ware what I wanted because the shift would be after hours . I accepted the change, because the shift was something I originally wanted . I don't have to ware a uniform and the shifts are shorter hours ( 4 hours a day ) but 7 days a week which means I'm guaranteed 1 day a week at getting time and a half for that one day a week. I'm ok with the way things tuned out but does that address the 1000's of other staff that may still be under the idea and acceptance that they don't get a 30 minute meal break unless they work a full 8 hour shift and that they should be compensated for their cost to clean the companies uniform ? I would have to ask the staff if any of the policies have changed recently. This is just a small example of how companies deal with their employees, and Labor Laws but on the grander scale of things it goes to show that the Labor Laws needs a major overhaul, especially in BC. I made some recommendations of changing the labor laws in the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy / Discussion Forum / Which Government of Canada programs and policies do you feel are effective at reducing poverty? Are there programs and policies that can be improved? What else could we do? Where I suggest that tax breaks are given to companies / employers that offer their employees perks that are not mandatory . That the break times be changed and increased from 1 break 30 min unpaid break every 5 hours to 1 unpaid 30 min break every 4 hours with a quick paid break 10-15 minutes every 2 hours. Noting that the quick breaks are not mandatory for the employer but if given the employer should receive a tax break incentive, as this benefits the employees well being . Other tax breaks for Employers should get by offering their employees, * Medical, dental, eye and hearing care, physiotherapy, and any health related care. * Education and Training. * Work Clothing. * Extra activities beyond work that could include a massive range of things from fitness centers, to out door activities, vacations and trips. In order for Employers to enhance their employees lives, Employers should get a tax break incentive so they don't have to take a big hit out of their profits, which the employer needs in order to stay in business . The Government and Employers need to revamp the Labor Laws that benefit the well-being of their employees so we all can benefit and improve our lives .
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