Independent contractors and employment standards

Protection for contractors?
By Meghan McCreary
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/06/2016

Question: Do independent contractors have any protections under employment standards legislation or are companies free to include any demands in such contracts?

Answer: Employment standards legislation in Canada applies to “employees” and “employers.” Who constitutes an “employee” under employment standards legislation is expressly defined in the legislation. A true independent contractor is not an employee under employment standards legislation or at common law, and therefore is not covered by the protections of the legislation.

In many cases disputes arise respecting whether a worker is an employee, deserving of the protections of employment standards legislation, or whether the worker is an independent contractor, exempt from the shield of legislation. The ultimate question respecting the legal status of a worker is whether the worker is performing services “as a person in business on his own account:” see 1671122 Ontario Ltd. v. Sagaz Industries Canada Inc. If the worker is in business on his own account, he will be an independent contractor, not an employee. In assessing whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee, the following factors are relevant to consider: