BC owner-ops likely separate from new definitions of ‘independent worker’

SURREY, B.C. — Changes that WorkSafeBC has made to the definitions and policies for “workers, employers and independent operators,” likely won’t affect owner-operators in the trucking industry, reports the B.C. Trucking Association.

Under the new policy, truck owner-operators will still likely be considered independent operators because one of its defining characteristics will be whether the operator legally or beneficially owns a piece of major equipment and contracts to supply personal labor and the piece of major equipment, notes BCTA.

The changes, which take affect Jan. 1, 2009, affects whether an employee is automatically covered by workers’ compensation or whether it is voluntary, as in the case of owner-ops.

According to the policy, “major equipment” is defined as “an asset used to generate revenue and which requires a significant capital outlay to acquire and a significant expense to provide, which may include maintenance and/or operating costs. This definition would seem to cover owner-operators in the trucking industry, the trucking group points out.

In determining whether a contractor should be considered a “worker,” WorkSafeBC will reportedly weigh the four commonly used principles to distinguish between the two: level of control, equipment supply, chance of profit and risk of loss, and business integration.

However, says BCTA, no single factor will be determinative. When considering the four principles, there is no exhaustive list of factors that can be consistently applied in every case.

BCTA adds that while most applications for registration as an independent operator are likely bona fide, if the four general principles do not result in a clear finding, the fact that a service provider applies for coverage may be used as evidence of independence.

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