Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has introduced a new process to confirm the status of independent owner-operators — and it only needs to be completed the first time a ruling is requested with a specific vehicle identification number (VIN) .
WSIB will use a questionnaire to identify whether a worker must be insured by the business they work for, is an independent operator who can choose to be insured, or a business with employees. It will issue a “status determination letter” to the business principal and individual once a ruling is made.
“Independent operators in the transportation industry can then provide a copy of the status determination letter to new principals for all subsequent contracts if the same vehicle identification number (VIN) is used,” WSIB adds. “The principal must match the independent operator vehicle ownership documents to the VIN on the status determination letter. If they match, the status determination letter is valid for the contract.”
Independent contractors will need to complete a new questionnaire if they change vehicles.
“While this move is intended to reduce the administrative burden for true owner-operators, from the OTA’s perspective we also see added benefits in helping to deal with the misclassification of employee drivers who operate company equipment and are not true owner-operators,” Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) director of policy and public affairs Jonathan Blackham said in a press release.
Completed questionnaires must be submitted to WSIB with a copy of a truck’s licence plate and vehicle portion of the permit (ownership) and, if applicable, a copy of a vehicle lease or rental agreement.
WSIB has issued some of the few financial penalties to fleets that misclassify employees as independent contractors, in a business model often referred to as Driver Inc. Twenty-one trucking businesses had to pay premium adjustments after 34 operations were audited in 2020. Most of those adjustments ranged between $305 and $21,784.
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