Mandatory coverage in construction FAQs

Who does the WSIB consider an ‘independent operator’?

An independent operator in construction is someone who:

  • performs or manages Class G construction work
  • does not have employees
  • works as a contractor or subcontractor for more than one person during an 18-month period
  • reports as ‘self-employed’ to a government agency, like the Canada Revenue Agency

See details on the independent operators in construction page.

Are there exemptions to mandatory coverage in construction?

Yes. There are two exemptions:

  1. Individuals, partnerships or corporations performing home renovation work only, and who are hired and paid directly by the homeowner or resident. People who run a home renovation business with employees must be registered with us to insure the employees, but are exempt from coverage for themselves.
  2. If you are exempt from mandatory coverage, you do not have to be covered by us and are not entitled to any benefits, however, you can apply for optional insurance. The second exemption applies to:
    • corporations and partnerships with employees
    • corporations without employees but with multiple executive officers
    • partnerships without employees

One executive officer or one partner may apply for an exemption, however, to qualify, the individual must not perform any construction work (occasional site visits are allowed). Only one person per company can be exempt.

For rules around exemptions, see our policy on expanded compulsory coverage in construction.

Is there a separate rate for partners or executive officers?

Yes, non-exempt partners and executive officers in construction receive a separate premium rate that reflects the low risk of their work in comparison to the rest of the construction industry.

To apply for exemption from coverage for a partner or executive officer in construction, please complete an application form.

Sole proprietors and independent operators are not eligible for this rate.

Can I visit the construction site if I have an exemption from coverage?

Yes, you can occasionally visit the construction site as long as you do not perform any construction work while on site. Construction work refers to any manual work of a skilled or unskilled nature, the operation of equipment or machinery or the direct on-site supervision of workers.

I typically only do home renovation work but occasionally I take on a commercial job. Do I still qualify for the home renovation exemption?

No. If you only do home renovation work and are paid by the homeowner or resident you don't need WSIB coverage. However, if you take on even one contract that is not a home renovation, you no longer meet the criteria for exemption. This means you need to register with us, report your earnings and pay premiums for coverage on both the home renovation and non-home renovation earnings for a minimum period of three months.

You may contact us at employeraccounts@wsib.on.ca to cancel coverage after the minimum period of three months if you stop doing construction work other than home renovations. 

Is there a maximum to the amount of earnings that I have to report?

Yes, we set an annual maximum amount that you have to report as insurable earnings each year. Our maximum insurable earnings for 2021 is $102,800.

How often do I report and pay premiums?

Your report and pay schedule may be monthly, quarterly or annually depending on your estimated annual total insurable earnings. See more on reporting and paying frequency.

What are insurable earnings and how do I calculate them?

Your business’ insurable earnings, or payroll information, is what you will pay your employees for the current year. This information is reported on your employees' pay stubs or T4 slips as gross earnings, including deductions for income tax, Canada Pension Plan and employment insurance. Insurable earnings can also include earnings not reported on a T4 such as room and board, bonuses and commissions.

For construction, how insurable earnings are calculated and reported depends on your business type.

See more information for:

Do I have to report the dividends I receive from my company?

Yes, dividends paid by an employer to executive officers are considered insurable earnings, unless the employer is a holding company.

For more details on insurable earnings, see our policy on determining insurable earnings.

What if I operate a dump truck on a construction site?

Individuals with no employees who are operating a dump truck to deliver and/or remove product from construction sites (such as gravel, fill or aggregated) must complete determining worker/independent operator status questionnaire - trucking industry form (PDF).

If you are confirmed as an independent operator in a business that is not construction (Class G), mandatory coverage in construction does not apply to you and you do not need to register with us. However, if you are asked to provide a clearance you can apply for optional insurance.

See more information on independent operator status for those that are not in construction.

How do clearances work?

Principals must get or require contractors to provide clearances before beginning any construction work. With the exception of home renovation work, contractors must have WSIB coverage and ensure their account is up to date to be eligible for clearances.

See more information on clearances in construction.

What will happen if I do not register or get a clearance?

You could miss work or lose a contract. The law requires a clearance to be in place before any construction work starts. If you do not have a clearance, the principal (the business that hires another business to do work for them) may refuse you entry to the jobsite until you have one. To be eligible for a clearance, you must have WSIB coverage and ensure your account is up to date.

What are the benefits of WSIB coverage that are different from private insurance?

By registering with us and paying premiums you:

  • get affordable workplace insurance you can rely on to protect your employees
  • have no-fault workplace insurance that protects you from expensive court settlements and provides services and support when you and your employees need it
  • can access programs and services designed to help improve your workplace health and safety over time. This will help keep you informed, prepared and allow you to adjust for the future