A former Scrubbi head office employee says she often spoke to cleaning contractors when they inquired about their missing pay.
“Daily, we were getting about five, six different contractors calling, wanting to get payment,” said Sonia Cheeba, a former operations co-ordinator who worked for Scrubbi for nearly a year and a half.
Cheeba admits to taking a lot of calls knowing some contractors would likely never get paid.
“They said that, just tell them that, ‘Oh, our payment system, we’re trying to figure it out. We’ll get you paid out on Friday, next cheque will be out to you,'” said Cheeba. “You just tell them that we know that we have to pay them and we’re going to prepare a cheque for them.”
She says the tough phone conversations were the main reason she left the Surrey-based, Canada-wide company.
“They couldn’t pay their bills, they were crying, some of them got their cars repo’d,” she said.
Since CTV News first covered the story on Tuesday, more and more contractors have come forward claiming their pay was delayed or never arrived at all.
“I was owed $619.59 and I was never paid from July 17,” said Victoria Teather, a former Scrubbi contracted worker.
Teather shared emails with CTV News showing conversations with Scrubbi staff dating back to July and August 2022. In the emails, Scrubbi acknowledges the missing funds.
“Resolving this error is a top priority for us, and we hope to have this resolved as soon as possible,” reads one email dated Aug. 3, 2022.
The company then tried requesting Teather’s services for more cleaning jobs before settling the payment issue. Teather declined and resigned from the company.
“We have processed your resignation and working to resolve your pay delay,” reads another email from Scrubbi staff dated Aug. 17, 2022.
On Tuesday, Scrubbi sent CTV News the following statement:
“Scrubbi recently transitioned to using a third-party vendor to process payment to its contractors and vendors. During the transition period, some payments did not process properly, which affected a small minority of contractors and vendors. To resolve any outstanding payment issues, Scrubbi encourages the contractors and vendors to reach out directly to Scrubbi.”
Scrubbi declined an on-camera interview when CTV News arrived at the company’s head office.
So far, three contract workers who appeared on CTV News have since been paid in full by Scrubbi.
With the workers being classified as independent contractors, a B.C. employment lawyer says they have less protection than typical employees and face an uphill battle if they want to take the matter to court.
“It’s going to be cost-prohibitive if you’re talking about trying to collect $800 and having to pay a lawyer to do that,” said Jay Spiro, employment lawyer with Spraggs Law.
“It can either be too complicated to bring forward, too costly, or too time consuming.”
Spiro says contractors could go the commercial arbitration route, which can also be costly.
Additionally, he says contractors could also challenge the ‘independent contractor’ designation with the BC Employment Standards Branch. If the branch were to determine they were employees instead of contractors, then their path to enforcing the payment of wages could be much more cost-effective.
Since CTV News’ coverage of Scrubbi began Tuesday, more than 10 contractors from B.C. to Ottawa and two former head office employees have come forward with their stories regarding payment issues at the company.