Office contract

SkipTheDishes is apologizing to a woman and offering to reschedule a second job interview that was cancelled after she asked about wages and benefits.

Taylor Byrnes of Winnipeg tweeted a screenshot Sunday of an email exchange with Victoria Karras, a talent acquisition co-ordinator with the online food delivery company.

“If I do end up filling this position, how much do you think I’ll be getting paid an hour?” Byrnes asked. “Benefits will also be included, right? Sorry, I just thought I should ask now. Thanks for your time and have a lovely day.”

Karras said in her reply that the questions revealed the applicant’s values were out of sync with SkipTheDishes. She called off a meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday.

Karras followed up with another message clarifying the company’s position. “As a startup company, we seek out those who go out of their way to seek out challenges and new opportunities. We believe in hard work and perseverance in pursuit of company goals as opposed to focusing on compensation,” she wrote. “Our corporate culture may be unique in this way, but it is paramount that staff display intrinsic motivation and are proven self-starters. For these reasons, questions about compensation and benefits at such an early stage is a concern related to organizational fit.”

Byrnes said the back-and-forth with Karras happened after she’d done a phone interview, which went well. Her tweet went viral. Many Twitter users voiced their support for Byrnes and some threatened to boycott SkipTheDishes.

“Ensuring one gets paid for work they do IS a sign of a motivated person,” tweeted a user named Sue K. “Signed, a former customer.”

“Good thing you found out now; that’s code for we need to exploit your labour for as much as possible,” Kim Siever wrote.

Another Twitter user who goes by Eziquiel quipped: “‘Sure. I don’t mind if you pay me below average or I can’t pay my bills,’ said no one, ever.”

SkipTheDishes co-founder Joshua Simair said the email to Byrnes was wrong and does not represent the company’s approach or values. “We are very disappointed in how it was handled. We do share a compensation package prior to hiring. As soon as we became aware of it on Monday, we reached out to Taylor to apologize for the email and reschedule her interview,” he said in an emailed statement. “We’ve also addressed the email internally and will be providing additional training. We are very committed to our community, employees and continuing to grow and create employment opportunities in the Prairies.”

The online food delivery company, founded in Saskatoon and with headquarters in Winnipeg, was sold to a company in the United Kingdom for $110 million in December. SkipTheDishes operates in 14 Canadian cities, mostly in Western Canada, and six cities in the U.S. Midwest.

It can be tricky to pinpoint the right time to ask about compensation, said Benjamin Kemp, vice president at Calgary employment agency Bowen.
Sometimes there are big disparities between what a company is willing to pay and a potential employee’s expectations. “You don’t want to get too far in the process having not qualified that because you can do three interviews and it’s all been a waste of time.”

Kemp said the conversation should happen in person, rather than by email, and after a fair bit of research about what an appropriate pay range is for the market. Instead of asking for numbers outright, he advises job-seekers to instead ask prospective employers when they think the subject should be broached. “If you ask when it’s appropriate to ask, people will probably tell you.”

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