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Risky salary offer at A&W

In order not to have to reduce their opening hours, many restaurants are multiplying their original employee recruitment strategies. In Greenfield Park, south of Montreal, an A&W offers a higher hourly rate to candidates who agree to work full time. The idea may sound catchy, but…

“We’re hiring,” read the large turquoise sign planted on the lawn in front of the A&W on Boulevard Taschereau. It is not necessary to enter to know the salary offered. It is revealed immediately.

The restaurant is offering $16.25 an hour for full-time workers whose hours will be “daytime Monday through Friday,” in addition to “non-fixed” benefits. Those who will be hired part-time will be entitled to $15.

I haven’t been able to figure out how effective this strategy is at filling weekday shifts when teens are in school. The owner of this A&W franchise did not respond to my interview request.

Certainly, the idea of ​​offering a higher rate to full-time workers is not common in the restaurant industry “for the simple and good reason that it is not allowed,” explains the doorman the words the Restaurant Association of Quebec (ARCH). , Martin Vezina.

Article 41.1 of the Labor Standards Law (LNT) prohibits offering a different hourly rate based on the number of hours worked per week if workers perform the same tasks in the same establishment. Of course, experience or seniority can justify salary differences between two colleagues, but not “employment status” (full time or part-time).

The courts have already dealt with one such case in the 1990s involving Maison Simons, I learned from labor law attorney Marianne Plamondon of the firm Langlois.

The Commission des normes du travail (now CNESST) had determined that the Quebec retailer should offer the same hourly rate to its saleswomen, regardless of their status. Simons appealed the case, arguing that he was assigning specific tasks to each category of salespeople. But in 1995, the Court of Appeal refused to hear her arguments and upheld the initial decision.

different responsibilities

The Greenfield Park A&W salary offer would not be widespread among the brand’s 180 franchises in Quebec, according to Stéphan Bisson, director of marketing for Quebec at A&W.

“The management of human resources and hiring is the responsibility of each operator individually. Salary and benefits policies are developed according to your management strategy. »

Regarding the legality of the two hourly rates announced on the poster, the manager wrote to me, after I sent him on Wednesday the text of article 41.1 of the LNT, that “the different salaries are linked to the fact that the responsibilities and tasks vary from one employee to another”. Over the phone, he assured me that inventory and orders, for example, are only done on weekdays.

Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt, even if the content of the ad is questionable. And even if the panel had disappeared at the end of the day, Thursday.

A&W franchisees find it hard to “stand out in today’s environment,” forcing them to redouble their efforts “to try and get the attention of potential employees,” adds Stéphan Bisson.

A general situation in the industry.

sweets and imagination

Since the start of the pandemic, many people who had careers in the restaurant business have left the industry. Hence the increasing difficulty of recruiting available full-time staff.

To be attractive, more and more restaurateurs offer group insurance, retention bonuses such as “$500 after three months of work” or reimbursement of tuition fees, the ARQ lists. Kitchens close earlier so employees can finish at a reasonable hour.

“There is this reflection: how to distinguish yourself because everyone is looking for employees. And we are fighting against other sectors such as nursing homes where the schedule ends early”, says Martín Vézina.

Despite all the sweets and imagination in the world, restaurants are forced to close entire days or reduce their opening hours. This is the case of A&W and Tim Hortons, whose success, however, was based on the 24/7 schedule. This business model based on 24-hour service is increasingly unsustainable for entrepreneurs. They prove it, rightly so.

Consumers will have to get used to it. The labor shortage forces us to be patient with less experience and fewer employees. Not just in restaurants, but everywhere: in the store, on the phone (have you tried to contact your credit card issuer recently?), at the passport office, at the airport.

Eating your emotions will not be the solution.


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