The main law in British Columbia setting out the rights of workers is called the Employment Standards Act. Most (but not all) workers in the province are protected under this law. Learn if you’re covered.
The Employment Standards Act doesn’t cover independent contractors. An independent contractor is seen to be self-employed (and so not an “employee”). In other words, they run their own business.
The question of whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor can be tricky.
There are several factors to consider. An employee (as defined in the Act) is a person “entitled to wages for work performed for another.” An employer is a person who has “control or direction of an employee.”
The topic of direction and control is important. Does the person paying you direct the work and say how it’s done? If the answer is “Yes,” that leans towards you being seen as an employee.
Independent contractors are less controlled by the employer. A contractor would be more likely to set their own hours, determine how to perform the work, and provide their own equipment.
A contractor also shares more of the risk. They’re more likely to be financially affected than an employee if the business does well or poorly.
Other factors include:
Clients. Is the person paying you your only gig or one of many?
Ongoing relationship. Have you worked for them for a long time?
Connection to business. Is the work you do closely connected to the purpose of the business?
More “Yes” answers mean you are more likely to be seen as an employee than as an independent contractor.
Signing something saying you’re an independent contractor doesn’t make it so. You may still be an employee under employment standards law.
The Employment Standards Act doesn’t apply to babysitters. A babysitter is someone employed solely to attend to a child or other person in someone else’s private residence. It’s not someone working in a day care facility.
Workers who belong to unions are covered by the collective agreements negotiated between their union and employer.
For collective agreements made or renewed after May 30, 2019, they must meet or exceed the minimum standards of the Employment Standards Act in a number of areas. These include hours of work and overtime, statutory holidays, and minimum notice provisions.
Just because you’re not covered by the Employment Standards Act doesn’t mean you have no rights in the workplace. Other laws still apply to those who are excluded from the Act. For example, human rights laws protect all workers from discrimination. Workers compensation laws help make all workers safer.