Independent Operator status FAQs

You may need to confirm your status as either an independent operator or an employee (worker) if a business who has hired you needs confirmation of their responsibility to report and pay for your WSIB coverage.  We may also need to confirm your status for coverage and benefit purposes.

We use a Determining Worker/Independent Operator Status questionnaire by industry to help us understand if a person is considered an:

If you work in construction, please see independent operators in construction, as you will have a different process.

Complete the appropriate form based on your industry:

FAQs

What is the difference between a “worker” and an “independent operator”?

An employee (worker) must be insured by the business they are doing work for. This includes anyone you employ in your business, including family that you control what work is performed, where, when, and how the work is to be performed. This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal or temporary employees, certain domestic employees, unregistered individuals engaged in construction work, students, apprentices, learners and training participants. 

An independent operator is not automatically covered by the business they are doing work for.  An independent operator agrees to perform specific work in return for payment. Their employer does not necessarily control the way the work is done, or the time and place the work is performed.

When do I complete a Determining Worker/Independent Operator Status questionnaire?

You should complete the questionnaire before you start doing work for a business who has hired you. 

If you’re hiring an individual/contractor you will need to complete a questionnaire to determine your status. You should complete a questionnaire when the business who has hired you needs to know if it’s their responsibility to report and pay for your WSIB coverage. We may also need to confirm your status for coverage and benefit purposes.

What does a Worker/Independent Operator status ruling mean?

If you are considered an employee (worker), the business you are doing work for is responsible for providing coverage for you through the WSIB. The business will report and pay premiums for you. This status ruling is effective as of the start date of the working relationship, and the business may need to make retroactive premium payments.

If you are considered an independent operator, the business you are doing work for isn’t responsible for paying premiums on your earnings. In this case you can apply for  optional insurance which provides coverage in case of a workplace injury or illness. Once you have optional insurance, you can get a clearance certificate, if your account is up to date.

If you enter a new business relationship with the same business in the future, you should notify us, as we may need to review the status ruling.

Why do I need to submit a questionnaire for each business I do work for?

Completing the questionnaire helps to protect both the individual and the company they are doing work for in case of an injury or illness of happens. 

This confirms if a business who has hired you is responsible for reporting and paying for your WSIB coverage. 

It will also help if a business is audited. Without confirming status, a business may be responsible for premiums for the labour portion of the contract paid to the person completing the work.

Why is the business who has hired me holding my payment?

A worker/Independent Operator status decision confirms if you are an employee (worker) or an independent operator, this confirms if a business who has hired you is responsible for reporting and paying for your WSIB coverage. Until a decision has been made, the business may hold back a payment to you because it may be held liable for premiums for the labour portion of the contract (see the Clearance FAQs). Getting a status decision before or at the start of the work, will avoid your payment being held back. 

How long is the status decision valid?

The status decision is valid for the term of the contract or as long as there is no change in the working relationship between the business and the person providing the work. If there is a change in the working relationship as a result of  a new contract, you can contact the WSIB for a status decision. 

If it is determined you are an employee of the business, the decision is valid until your employment relationship changes.

As an individual, if I incorporate am I considered an independent operator due to my legal status as a corporation?

Just incorporating your company does not make you and independent operator.

Even though you are an individual who is incorporated, we will still need to determine whether the working relationship is a ‘worker’ or an ‘independent operator’. This confirms if a business who has hired you is responsible for reporting and paying for your WSIB coverage. 

That means you will need to complete the applicable Determining Worker/Independent Operator Status questionnaire so we can know what your status is even though you have incorporated.

Do I need to submit anything in addition to the questionnaire?

Depending on the industry that you work in, there are supporting documents that you may need to include:

  • copies of 3-5 recent invoices/contracts for different companies (to show that work is completed for more than one business)
  • copy of the individuals’ business registration or Certificate/Articles of Incorporation
  • HST number, if applicable
  • copies of recent purchase orders for materials that are supplied as part of the work performed (e.g. tools)
  • advertising material (e.g. business cards, website), if available
  • If you are in transportation, a copy of your vehicle ownership

This is not an exhaustive list.  Please see the industry specific questionnaire for more examples of supporting documentation.

The questionnaire must be signed by both you and the business you are doing work for.

You can list multiple businesses on one questionnaire.

What are some of the factors that we look at to make the status decision?

We carefully review all materials submitted. We look at whether the information provided is more characteristic of the behaviour or situations of an employee (worker) or independent operator.  For example, if you are trained or supervised by an experienced employee of the business you are doing work for, this would be more characteristic of an employer-employee relationship. An independent operator would be more likely to use their own methods to complete the work.

We also look at factors such as the materials, tools, equipment you use. And, if there are any costs associated with doing the work, such as the cost of obtaining, maintaining, operating and repairing the materials, tools and equipment. We look at who pays for these costs and who makes the decisions about where the material is being purchased from. We consider the person’s ability to earn a profit or suffer a loss in the work they are doing.

In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, many more factors are used when making a decision regarding status. For more information, please see our policy on Workers and Independent Operators.

How will I know what decision was made?

Once we reach a decision about a person’s status, we send a letter to each person who signed the questionnaire – the individual as well as the business(es) they are completing work for.  The letter outlines their WSIB responsibilities resulting from the decision.