Once bitten twice shy: Greater scrutiny ahead for employees misclassified as contractors

October 22, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Jackie VanDerMeulen

Organizations’ use of independent contractors (often also referred to as consultants) as opposed to actual employees has grown significantly over the years. This trend comes as no surprise in a changing economy where particular skill sets are required at specific times and where flexibility is a key driver of success. In some cases, the characterization of a relationship as one of independent contractor is driven by requests from workers themselves, often to take advantage of certain tax benefits.

There are lots of great reasons to use independent contractors as part of a workforce. Increasingly however, adjudicators, plaintiff lawyers, and legislators are challenging employers who “misclassify” workers as independent contractors. A finding that a worker (or group of workers) has been misclassified can result in significant liability for an organization. Employers may therefore want to think twice before using independent contractors.

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Employee or self-employed? That is the question!

March 02, 2015 0 COMMENTS

By Alexandra Meunier and Yves Turgeon

In the financial services industry, the status of insurance and financial product sales reps is often in question. Are they employees or independent contractors? No matter what part of Canada you’re in, it is important to get it right. read more…

Independent contractor’s behavior can lead to criminal liability for employers

September 23, 2012 0 COMMENTS

By Antonio Di Domenico

On Christmas Eve 2009, a swing stage (a work platform) suspended on the 14th floor of an Ontario apartment building collapsed. Four workers including the site supervisor died after falling to the ground.

Metron Construction was charged with criminal negligence causing death under Canada’s Criminal Code. The company’s owner and sole director, Joel Swartz, was charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Both the company and Swartz pleaded guilty. In two decisions, R. v. Metron and R. v. Swartz, both were fined significantly.

The basis for the charges and fines? The expanded scope of criminal liability under Canada’s Criminal Code, which is no longer confined to the “directing mind” of a corporation. Here it applied to an independent contractor. read more…

When Must Individual Contractors Receive Reasonable Notice?

January 25, 2010 0 COMMENTS

By Donna Gallant

A recent appeal court decision demonstrates once again that defining work relationships is far from an exact science. Somewhere on the spectrum between employees and independent contractors, we have seen the emergence of “dependent contractors.” What hasn’t been entirely clear is how one determines “dependent contractor” status.  Nor what that status means in terms of the worker’s entitlements on termination.

The Ontario Court of Appeal in McKee v. Reid’s Heritage Homes Ltd. attempts to shed some light on these issues. The decision may have broad ramifications across Canada.

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