An investigation by news site Ricochet is accusing St-Henri restaurant Venice of imposing possibly illegal rules on staff.
Ricochet spoke with a former server from Venice who said she was asked to work standby shifts, requiring her to wait at the restaurant but without working until it was busy enough to justify putting her on the floor. The waiting time was allegedly unpaid, and the server told Ricochet she only worked three full shifts (the article did not define full shifts) in the span of three months.
The server also said some bussers were put on similar unpaid standby shifts. She reportedly took the issue to Quebec’s CNESST, which handles disputes against employers. CNESST has confirmed to Eater that it has received three complaints against Venice since 2017.
An employee manual for the St-Henri Venice and its neighbouring bar, Paper Plane reportedly obtained by Ricochet describes those standby shifts, noting that staff are required to be at the restaurant when scheduled for standby shifts. Venice owner Charles Manceau rebutted Ricochet, saying that while standby shifts existed, staff waited at home.
The complaints in the Ricochet were only directed at the St-Henri location of Venice, and not the other downtown and Old Montreal locations, although all three are under the same ownership.
Quebec’s labour code, the Normes de Travail, clearly states that employees must be paid anytime they are required to be physically present at work, meaning if such shifts existed at Venice, they could be considered illegal. If employees can remain at home, such shifts may be permissible.
This isn’t the first time that local restaurants have been accused of using this kind of standby shift: last year, L’Gros Luxe was also the subject of a Radio-Canada investigation after allegedly requiring staff to wait around for no pay during illegal standby shifts.