Enjoying your work should not mean sacrificing health or pay

Employers shouldn’t take advantage of your love for your job

Employees can file a complaint in B.C. through the Employment Standards Branch. (Shutterstock/Gumpanat)

Employees can file a complaint in B.C. through the Employment Standards Branch. (Shutterstock/Gumpanat)

Back in 2018, when I was enrolled in university as a full-time student, my other responsibility was to find a part-time job to survive in a city like Vancouver. As the hustle continued, I ended up in the foodservice industry.

Being a part of this industry is not an issue. However, problems can arise when managers and co-workers start relying on you to do extra work, and if you love your job and you’re a victim of perfectionism, it can be hard to say no. Eventually, enjoying your work while being taken advantage of can end up affecting both your health and paycheque.

It took three months for my managers to realize that they should pay me more to compensate for the extra work I was doing. I was regularly performing all the supervisor duties despite not officially being one. The actual increase in pay happened after my senior co-workers confronted my manager.

I spend most nights thinking about the line between paid and unpaid work. Why are they taking advantage of me? Why am I not appreciated for doing extra unpaid work? Am I setting a bad precedent by doing extra work without asking for a higher wage? 

In order to answer these questions and avoid this kind of mental pressure, we have to speak for ourselves, speak for our rights and have a conversation with our employers about fair pay.

Speaking for your rights can be the scariest part, especially when it comes to asking for higher pay. But it could be very worthwhile in the end.

As for those who feel like they are working too much, in British Columbia, most employers cannot make an employee work overtime hours if they are not part of their regularly scheduled hours of work. There are two general exceptions to that rule, though. 

The first is that your employment agreement, whether verbal or written, may allow your employer to require you to work more hours outside of your regular workday. The employer is still required to pay you for overtime hours in this case. The other exception is if there is a history of your employer asking you to work overtime and you agreeing to their request.

In any case, workers cannot be forced to work excessive hours or hours detrimental to their health or safety.

Other than that, in B.C. the issues can be resolved by contacting the Employment Standards Branch, or filing a complaint with the province.

Filing a complaint can be a long process that can end up with an investigation, though it is free of cost. Making a complaint against your boss can be a scary situation. However, Employment Standards don’t allow employers to threaten, discriminate, or fire an employee.

In the foodservice industry, there are rare situations when you have to take action against your boss, and in the end, the issues often can be easily resolved just by talking clearly to the general managers. Just remember that it’s always a good idea to advocate for yourself.