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Canadian Employers Liable for Actions of Independent Contractors

Posted by Stacey Jones

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Jan 29, 2013 1:45:00 PM

Independent ContractorsMany companies hire independent contractors with the belief that they have no liability when it comes to responsiblity and safety of that worker.  In the staffing world many agencies inappropriately only place these types of contract workers so they can, not only avoid paying taxes, but also to reduce their own liability as an employer. 

Although a contract staffing firm was not involved in the below case, it is a good example of a case where the employer did not escape criminal liability when contracting with an independent.  

It underlines the fact that even staffing firms who place independent contractors need to have the expertise behind them to ensure they have done their due diligence and are in compliance with their provincial legislation.

"On Christmas Eve, 2009, a swing stage (a work platform) suspended at the 14th floor of an Ontario apartment building collapsed. Four workers, including the site supervisor, died after falling to the ground. Metron Construction was charged with criminal negligence causing death under Canada’s Criminal Code. Metron’s owner and sole director, Joel Swartz, was charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Both pled guilty. In two decisions, R.V. Metron and R.V. Swartz, both were fined significantly. The basis for the charges and fines? The expanded scope of criminal liability under the Criminal Code, which is no longer confined to the “directing mind” of a corporation. Here it applied to an independent contractor."

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Topics: contract staffing contingent staffing independent contractors workforce compliance recruiting agency

Stacey Jones

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