THE EMPLOYERS' EDGE
Mandatory WSIB Coverage for all who Work in Construction
As of January 1, 2013, the amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 as a result of Bill 119 are in force. As we wrote in our blog on April 12, 2012, the amendments to the Act expand mandatory WSIB coverage to persons working in the construction industry who previously had been exempt from coverage.
Coverage under the Act applies to most but not all industries in Ontario. Executive officers of corporations, partners of partnerships, and sole proprietors acting as independent contractors have, historically, not been covered under the Act. For non-construction business, these exemptions will continue to apply. As of January 1, 2013 these exemptions will no longer apply to persons who are engaged in construction work.
Bill 119 will still provide for certain exceptions to this broader coverage.
• Residential renovation industry. Independent contractors who work solely in the residential renovation industry will still be exempt from coverage. The rules for this exemption are strict. Any work in the commercial or industrial construction industry will defeat that exemption.
• Executive officers. A corporation may apply for the exemption of one executive officer provided that the executive officer does not engage in any construction work. The exemption is not available to more than one executive officer in a corporation, but the WSIB has established a lower premium rate for additional executive offers who are not engaged in construction work for the corporation. This is not an invitation to appoint all administrative staff as executive officers, however, and the WSIB retains the authority to determine whether a person is, in fact, an executive officer.
Liability of non-construction businesses. The amendments to the Act are also very important to non-construction businesses likely to retain the services of a construction contractor. The principle to a contract for such services is liable to pay the unpaid premiums of the contractor if they are retained without proof of coverage. The proof can easily be obtained through a clearance certificate from the WSIB. The WSIB has now established a convenient e-clearance system through its electronic services available online.
Offences. The Act says that a person who hires a construction contractor is not permitted to allow that contractor to engage in work on the site or on the project if the contractor has not provided this proof of coverage or proof that the coverage has been maintained throughout the project. To allow a contractor to engage in work without a clearance from the WSIB is an offence under the Act. If convicted, a corporation is liable to a fine of up to $100,000 and an individual for a fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment of up to six months or both.
We have assisted clients in reviewing their purchasing processes to ensure that they are in full compliance with the Act when retaining construction contractors.
Rob Boswell and other lawyers at CCP can assist with any questions relating to the implementation of the mandatory construction coverage amendments or any other issues relating to workplace safety and insurance obligations.
Please Note: This blog has been prepared as an informational service for our clients and other interested parties. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, a complete statement of the law or opinion on any subject. Although we endeavour to ensure the accuracy of the content, no one should act upon the information provided without a thorough examination of the law after the facts of a specific situation are fully considered.