Gas and Dash – Who Loses?
Fact: It is illegal to dock any workers pay based on company loss from theft by a third party (Canada wide legislation). This is of particular importance in the gas station business. With gas prices as high as they are, gas and dash thefts are on the rise. These thefts impact the bottom line of the gas station. As such, workers are sometimes on the hook to pay for the theft from their paycheck – thus encouraging those workers to chase the car in an attempt to either get paid or catch the crook.
There is a simple way to prevent gas and dash theft; force all clients to prepay inside or at the pump. The worry is that, unless all gas stations are willing to do this, drivers will go to competitors where it may be quicker to fill up and then pay. There is also an added cost to run the gas station if it is arranged as a prepay station.
Recent events have prompted a more serious look at this situation from a safety perspective. Yes, the financial impact to the gas station owner can be substantial; however the cost of an injury or fatality to a worker makes this a significant Occupational Health and Safety issue.
Provinces within Canada make their own laws in respect of Occupational Safety. Here are some examples of what provinces are doing:
The Ontario Federation of Labour as launched a Bad Gas Rip-Off Hotline at 1-800-668-9138 to receive anonymous tips on franchise owners and companies that are deducting these thefts from workers after a worker was dragged to his death September 15, 2012.
British Columbia took a hard stand on gas pump theft 3 years ago when they enacted Grants Law to require prepayment of fuel purchase at late night gas stations. Grants Law also stated that a minimum of two workers must be working during the late night shift and a barrier must be put in place to ensure the safety of the workers; these have recently been removed from law as gas station owners felt they were too costly to maintain.
Saskatchewan is also looking at this topic with its proposed Jimmy’s Law (Bill 27-601). Jimmy’s Law addresses working alone (or without a physical barrier) and pre-paying for fuel late at night. This bill has gone through its first reading in the Legislature Dec 2012.
Regulators, as well as the public, are reacting to this situation, but this process takes time. Industry can step up and make the changes they believe will keep workers safe before the legislation requires them to do so.