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Employee or Independent Contractor? Do you know the difference?

It's unfortunate but did you know some employers treat their workers differently based on their employment status?

Your employment status affects your basic rights to things such as overtime pay, health & safety protections, right to Employment Insurance (EI), Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), Workplace Safety and Insurance (WSIB), or human rights. Not only does it affect your right to these basic entitlements, but it also affects the actions that can be taken when wages go unpaid or your face any issues at work, such as workplace harassment or injuries. You may think it is easy to tell whether you are classified as an employee or an independent contractor, however, there are many instances where nurses and other workers find themselves confused about their employment status based on their work environment.

Here are a few examples of employee status attributes compared to independent contractor/ self-made status attributes:

  1. You may be considered an employee if your company oversees your work versus controlling your own work and how it is done, whether independently or with the assistance of hired help, which an independent contractor may do.

  2. As an independent contractor, you may find yourself creating your own work hours while freely negotiating your pay and work completion date. However, as an employee, your work hours and rate of payment are determined by your company. For example, nurses employed by an organization are typically scheduled according to the company's availability, while a contractor can negotiate their project's start date and completion date.

  3. Most employees are provided with tools and equipment by the company which they work for. Independent contractors, however, are expected to own and utilize the correct tools and equipment for the work they have been contracted to complete.

  4. Profits and losses are a great way to set apart employees from independent contractors. When it comes to the profit and losses of a business, employees are not required to pay for the costs of running the business or the profits garnered from said business. Independent contractors on the other hand take all profits and losses from their work. Therefore, if an issue arises during a project causing losses, as a contractor you are responsible for these losses.

These are just a few examples of differences between employees and independent contractors. If you are confused or unsure about your employment status, contact the Workers Action Centre for more information and clarification to help you determine your employment status.

It is important to protect yourself, whether you are an employee or an independent contractor running your own business, knowing the laws that protect you will benefit you in the long run. Find free resources available with more information on our resources webpage.

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