After years of exemptions, the Workplace Safety Insurance Board recently took steps to extend mandatory WSIB coverage in the construction industry. Why? To level the playing field in this competitive industry as well as continuously work to improve the health and safety standards for all construction workers.
The days of certain employee-less independent contractors who work on jobsites, as well as construction business owners, being exempt from WSIB coverage are gone. As of January 1, 2013, a new mandatory coverage system for independent contractors, sole proprietors, certain business partners and executive officers working in construction was introduced. This change requires those affected to secure and pay for WSIB coverage. As well, principals and executives who hire contractors must require them to provide a WSIB clearance certificate before a person or organization retaining their services can allow them to work on a jobsite.
Prior to January 2013, the issuance of a WSIB clearance certificate from contractors was optional. Now, not only is it mandatory, as part of this new provision the certificate must also be valid for the entire length of service. For construction companies, that introduces a new operational requirement. Specifically, they must now put systems in place to monitor the expiry dates of certificates and ensure new certificates are put on file before they expire. They must also ensure these certificates are kept on file for at least three years after the date on which they’re obtained in case the Board or its representatives conduct an inspection.
According to these new provisions, contractors are responsible for ensuring they’re registered with the WSIB and making the correct payments. If their payments go into default, their clearance certificate can be revoked, which means employers must stop them from doing work if they become aware of the revocation.
As with any new legislation, there are some obvious exemptions. These include:
- Home renovators who work exclusively in home renovation, do not employ any workers, work directly for and are paid directly by the homeowner; and
- Partners and executives who do not do any construction work on any building sites. This exemption is only available for one partner or executive officer of a business.
Employers take note: the cost of non-compliance with the Act can be hefty and provides a good incentive to minimize your exposure to liability. Individual violators can be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for six months, while corporations can be fined up to $100,000.
It’s the reason why construction firms need to be well advised to ensure their policies for obtaining WSIB coverage and retaining clearance certificates are in place and working.
This blog is provided as information and a summary of workplace legal issues.
This information is not intended as legal advice.