Under the new legislation, Bill 119, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act 2008 obligates independent operators, sole proprietors, partners and executive officers working in the construction industry to obtain insurance coverage, with certain exceptions. Under the WSIA independent operators, sole proprietors, partners and executive officers are now deemed workers and therefore the WSIB has recently implemented Policy 12-01-06 under the Operational Policy, Employer Coverage.
The major effect pertaining to the passing of Bill 119 is the requirement that independent operators must now obtain insurance coverage; the subsequent effect being that contractors will now have to obtain and verify valid WSIB clearance certificates from all construction trades and contractors on a regular basis. Partnerships, corporations with workers, and corporations without workers but with multiple executive officers may exempt one (1) partner or one (1) executive officer given that the individual does not perform any construction work, including on-site supervision.
Bill 119 takes effect January 1, 2013, contractors have less than one year to ensure they are in compliance with the new legislation with no penalty. The WSIB has made available a “voluntary pre-registration” window which started January 1, 2012 and is available for contractors to register via WSIB’s e-services. After January 1, 2013 premiums are due and penalties will take effect; all categories in the construction industry (independent operators, sole proprietors, partners in a partnership or executive officers of a corporation) have a requirement to fulfill which is to register with the WSIB within 10 days of being employed or of any material change to the coverage.
An exemption applies to those independent operators, sole proprietors, partners and executive officers in the construction industry if they are engaged exclusively in home renovation work directly for homeowners.
The key requirements in accordance with Bill 119 are:
- Contractors are to obtain clearance certificates before allowing independent operators to commence any construction work to confirm registration with the WSIB and full compliance under the WSIA;
- Where a clearance certificate has expired or has been revoked during construction the contractor is to obtain a valid clearance certificate before the construction is complete;
- Clearance certificates are to be kept for at least three years and made available during an inspection or audit.
Prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act may take place against an individual found guilty of not complying with Bill 119. The individual can be fined and held liable up to $25,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both; where a corporation may be liable to a fine not exceeding $100,000. Financial liability also lies in the hands of the individual retaining work from a contractor or subcontractor who fails to pay premiums or who has an overdue account (Section 141 of the WSIA).
The WSIB has implemented four new policies connecting with Bill 119, Expanded compulsory coverage in construction (Policy 12-01-06), Insurable earnings (Policy 14-02-18), Clearance certificates (Policy 14-02-19), Offenses and penalties for compulsory coverage in construction (Policy 22-01-10).