Who is covered by the WSIA
Workers are covered by the WSIA. A “worker” includes anyone employed under a contract of service or apprenticeship with an employer carrying on a construction business.
IOs, sole proprietors, partners, and executive officers in the construction industry are required to register with the WSIB, and to pay WSIB premiums, unless one of the few exemptions from coverage applies. Under the WSIA, these individuals are deemed workers for benefit purposes, they are deemed employers for payment purposes, and they are entitled to WSIB benefits regardless of whether they are registered with the WSIB or not – although any unpaid WSIB premiums would be deducted from any WSIB benefits payable.
Compulsory coverage for IOs working in industrial, commercial or institutional construction, or in non-exempt home renovation work
An IO is an individual who does not employ any workers, who reports him/herself as self-employed under an Act/regulation of Ontario, Canada, and/or another Canadian province or territory, i.e., for income tax purposes, and who is retained by more than one person during an 18-month period. Alternatively, an IO is an individual who is an executive officer of a corporation that does not employ any workers other than him/herself, and is retained by more than one person during an 18-month period. Non-exempt IOs must complete and submit a signed Status Declaration to confirm their IO status when they register with the WSIB.
Exemption for executive officers
As the earnings for all executive officers and partners are assessable for WSIB premium payments, you must include them in the premium calculation. However, one executive officer or partner in each company, so long as they do not perform any construction work, may be exempt. Construction work is defined, for this purpose, as any skilled/unskilled manual work, the operation of equipment/machinery, or the direct on-site supervision of workers. Periodic site visits are allowed.
In order to obtain this exemption, the executive officer’s name must be recorded in the employer’s corporate minute book, and his/her status needs to be confirmed by other documents that the WSIB can review, i.e., corporate by-laws, public records filed with other government authorities, resolutions by the board of directors, etc. The WSIB will then examine the substance of the individual’s relationship with the corporation in order to determine whether, for WSIB purposes, the individual is in fact an executive officer. The WSIB will provide written confirmation if the application is approved.
If there is a material change in the executive officer’s/partner’s non-construction work status, he/she must inform the WSIB within 10 days of the material change to avoid penalties.
Who can claim benefits under the WSIA
Workers or their dependents can claim WSIB benefits if the worker suffers an injury, disease or death that arose out of and in the course of employment, and the following three conditions are met:
- the worker’s employer is subject to compulsory coverage under the WSIA
- the individual is considered to be a worker under the WSIA (see above), and
- the injury happened in Ontario, or the worker qualifies under various out-of-province coverage rules.