Independent Contractors For Employees
As businesses seek flexibility and specialized skills, independent contractors become an attractive option for many BC businesses. Many individuals are embracing the autonomy and potential of contract-based work. However, with this freedom comes a unique set of challenges and legal nuances. Whether you’re considering the independent contractor route or are already on this path, you need to comprehend your rights and duties so that you don’t end up in legal trouble including an unintentional classification as an employee rather than a true independent contractor.
Employment Contract vs. Client Contract
An employment contract is a bond between an employer and an employee, detailing job roles, responsibilities, and benefits. In contrast, a client contract is more about the scope of a project, payment terms, and deliverables. It’s the difference between being part of a company and being hired for a specific task or project and being in business for yourself.
There can be a very thin line between being a contractor and being an employee and “the devil is in the details”! The contract you signed, and the nature of the role will make it seem like you are an independent contractor, but in reality, you could be an employee. It all depends on the actual day-to-day relationship between the parties. Some important considerations are how much control you actually have over the work you do (for example, if you are free to work as you generally see fit, choosing your hours and rate and perhaps employing your own staff, then you are most likely an independent contractor). Conversely, the more direction and control you are under, the more likely you are an employee rather than a contractor. This is not the end of the analysis, however, and it is always best to get advice.
What is a Dependent Contractor
Ever heard of a dependent contractor? It’s a term that’s gaining traction in BC. Imagine being somewhere between an employee and an independent contractor. You’re not entirely free, as most or all of your work comes from a single client, but you’re not bound by the typical 9-to-5 grind either. It’s a gray area, and understanding it can save you a lot of legal headaches and help you to understand your entitlements.
Benefits of Being an Independent Contractor
Freedom is the first word that comes to mind. Set your hours, choose your clients, and decide your rates. Plus, there’s the potential for varied projects and the joy of being your own boss. And let’s not forget the potential tax deductions that can come with running your own business.
Autonomy and profit is a great combination…but there are specific considerations that need to be undertaken to ensure that you are setting up your work arrangements properly.
Your Right to a Harassment Free Workplace
Regardless of your employment status, everyone deserves a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. Independent contractors are no exception. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re facing undue stress or discomfort due to the actions of a client or their employees, remember that you have rights. Speak up, and if necessary, seek legal counsel.
Protection from Wrongful Dismissal
While independent contractors don’t have the same job security as traditional employees, they still have rights when it comes to termination. If a client ends your contract without proper notice or payment, or without there being a breach, you might have a case for wrongful termination of contract. Always ensure to properly structure your contractual termination clause to protect yourself.
How a Lawyer Helps
Having skilled lawyers who have worked in this space before can help mitigate potential disaster. They will help construct an agreement that reflects the relationship you intend to create, whether that is an independent contract or employment situation, and will protect you in the event of termination, discrimination and much more.
Ensuring Fair Pay
Ever felt short-changed after a project? A lawyer can help ensure your contracts are valid and properly drafted, addressing fees, tax issues, CPP, WCB, and other important terms. It’s about getting what you truly deserve. A BC lawyer can ensure that all your bases are covered and that you are making the necessary remittances to federal and provincial governments.
Helping Draft Termination Clause
A sudden contract termination can throw a wrench in your plans. With a lawyer’s help, you can draft clauses that either compensate you adequately or give you enough notice to plan your next move.
Filing Claims against Employer
If things go south and you need to file a claim against a client, a lawyer can guide you through the process, ensuring you have the best chance at a favorable outcome. They will help you submit claims with the appropriate governing body. And in the event of legal proceedings, an employment lawyer will ensure you receive fair and just treatment.