The Eagle Blog

The ACSESS Conference – Day 2

Today was an easier day for me at the annual conference because I didn’t have many official duties. Eagle won a huge award in recognition of our Community Service and that is a big win when so many of the companies in our industry are very generous with their charitable support.

The other duty I had was to help with a session for our technology sector and unfortunately the speaker couldn’t make it at the last minute because he injured himself. If I was a polite person I wouldn’t mention the words “unfulfilled commitment”, but then again if I made a commitment to speak at an annual conference, I wouldn’t bail 24 hours before my commitment either! In the end it was not a big deal but I feel it was a black eye for our IT special interest group in an otherwise great conference agenda.

The up side of our “no show” was that I got to attend a session on differentiation which was based upon the book Blue Ocean Strategy. This is a great book that I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed at some point on this blog!!! I will commit to doing that sometime soon … but it is basically about redefining your companies market space to eliminate competition. The presenter was a former ACSESS President, friend and industry colleague Bruce McAlpine.

In addition to Bruce’s session and the industry awards, I attended a very credible session from Fran Goldstein, who wishes her clients a Frantastic day. Definitely a high energy lady with a slightly more aggressive sales style than the typical Canadian (she is from East Coast USA)… but some very good ideas and messages.

I went to an presentation from the WSIB (Workers Compensation people in Ontario) which was another good presentation that explained their corporate focus on zero accident workplaces in Ontario.

Perhaps my favorite session of the conference thus far was one on mergers and acquisition that featured three well known industry leaders here in Canada talking about their experiences as acquirers and as acquirees! Good information based on real life experiences, with no BS or posturing! Good stuff!

Once again I am convinced that conferences can be one of the best educational tools for any business leader, providing content, networking and the opportunity to establish a reputation for supporting the industry.

For me the 10th anniversary ACSESS conference has been the best one yet and we still have another day to go! If you are given a chance to attend high value industry conferences, then grab the opportunity! If you are a business leader, then absolutely support your industry association by sending some staff to their conference. I am extremely disappointed that some of the leading companies in our industry are not represented at this event … in the same way that I think everyone needs to be association members, I also think we have a duty to support these events.

The Return on investment is significant in pure learning opportunity, but the networking and reputation building opportunity is probably just as important!


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8 thoughts on “The ACSESS Conference – Day 2

  1. Regarding WSIB, what is the status of a contract worker under those regulations?

    I have always wondered what my recourse would be should my client drop (accidentally I hope!) a filing cabinet on my foot.

    My assumption is that there is no WSIB coverage because WSIB is for full-time employees only.

    As I understand it, a worker covered under WSIB gives up the right to sue the employer in the event of an injury. In return, the worker gets fair compensation from WSIB.

    As a contract worker, would my only recourse be to sue the client in the (unlikely) event of a workplace injury? Would my staffing agency back me up?

    (Note that I am not asking for a legal opinion, but you have far more experience in this area than I do).

  2. Regarding WSIB, what is the status of a contract worker under those regulations?

    I have always wondered what my recourse would be should my client drop (accidentally I hope!) a filing cabinet on my foot.

    My assumption is that there is no WSIB coverage because WSIB is for full-time employees only.

    As I understand it, a worker covered under WSIB gives up the right to sue the employer in the event of an injury. In return, the worker gets fair compensation from WSIB.

    As a contract worker, would my only recourse be to sue the client in the (unlikely) event of a workplace injury? Would my staffing agency back me up?

    (Note that I am not asking for a legal opinion, but you have far more experience in this area than I do).

  3. Great question … and despite just asking for my opinion I am going to defer this answer to Mary Mcininch, who is the Government Affairs manager for ACSESS, our staffing industry association.

    As an association, and as individual IT staffing companies, we have been working with WSIB around the area of coverage. Mary will be able to give you a more clear answer on this than I.

    Hopefully she will be able to get to that in the next few days … stay tuned!

  4. Great question … and despite just asking for my opinion I am going to defer this answer to Mary Mcininch, who is the Government Affairs manager for ACSESS, our staffing industry association.

    As an association, and as individual IT staffing companies, we have been working with WSIB around the area of coverage. Mary will be able to give you a more clear answer on this than I.

    Hopefully she will be able to get to that in the next few days … stay tuned!

  5. 1. Regarding WSIB, what is the status of a contract worker under those regulations?

    Response:

    The status of a contract worker under the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act (WSIA) will depend on the coverage status of such contractor. A contractor can be:

    a. A worker;

    b. An independent operator without Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) optional insurance; or

    c. An independent operator with WSIB optional insurance.

    Contractors ruled by the WSIB to be workers (or employees) and contractors who have obtained WSIB optional insurance are covered by the WSIB in case of work-related accident and can claim benefits from the WSIB.

    Whether a contractor is a worker or an independent operator depends on many factors such as the terms and conditions of the written agreement with the staffing agency, whether the contractors is incorporated or not, etc., but ultimately whether the contractor is truly operating his or her own business separate and distinct from the staffing agency. Some staffing agencies have obtained rulings from either the WSIB or the Workplace Safety & Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) that either their incorporated subcontractors are independent operators, or possibly also their unincorporated subcontractors are independent operators. Other staffing agencies have not obtained such rulings and really by default WSIB coverage is in place for all of the contractors retained.

    For those contractors working for staffing agencies where the WSIB or WSIAT have ruled that certain contractors are independent operators – those contractors can apply for what the WSIB calls Optional Insurance in order to have insurance coverage for themselves. The cost of such coverage for a single contractor is approximately $125.00 per year based on the 2008 earnings maximum of $73,300. A contractor should ask the staffing agency whether their contractors are covered by the WSIB or whether the contractor should obtain his/her own WSIB Optional Insurance

    2. I have always wondered what my recourse would be should my client drop (accidentally I hope!) a filing cabinet on my foot.

    Response:

    It will all depend on whether you are considered by the WSIB to be a worker of the staffing agency or an independent operator, and then if an independent operator, whether you have obtained Optional Insurance. If you have WSIB coverage as a worker or an independent operator with WSIB Optional Insurance, which would be under Schedule 1 of WSIA and the client is also covered under Schedule 1 of WSIA, then you can claim WSIB benefits, but you cannot sue the client for damages for the workplace injury.

    If you are an independent operator without WSIB Optional Insurance, whether or not you can pursue a lawsuit against any party will depend on who was at fault in causing your injury.

    3. My assumption is that there is no WSIB coverage because WSIB is for full-time employees only.

    Response:

    You should enquire with each staffing agency that retains your services to determine whether or not they are required by the WSIB to provide coverage for your particular situation. Alternatively you can ask the WSIB to make a ruling as to whether you are a true independent operator or if you are the worker of the staffing agency that retains your services. The WSIB will conduct what is known of as an organization test to determine whether in their opinion you operate a business that is separate and distinct from the staffing agency. If they rule you operate your own business you would be considered to be an independent operator.

    4. As I understand it, a worker covered under WSIB gives up the right to sue the employer in the event of an injury. In return, the worker gets fair compensation from WSIB.

    Response:

    The business activity of supplying IT specialists is covered on a compulsory basis under Schedule 1 of WSIA. Schedule 1 of WSIA is simply a list of specified business activities grouped into classes of activity. If a contractor retained by a supply of labour firm is considered by the WSIB to be a worker then according to section 28(1) of WSIA in the case of a work related injury he or she is not entitled to commence an action against any Schedule 1 employer or a director, executive officer or worker employed by any Schedule 1 employer. This means an injured worker is not entitled to sue his or her own employer or any other Schedule 1 employer.

    5. As a contract worker, would my only recourse be to sue the client in the (unlikely) event of a workplace injury? Would my staffing agency back me up?

    Response:

    If you are considered a worker of the supply of labour firm – you would not be entitled to sue the client if such client is a Schedule 1 employer. This is the case whether you are just a direct worker or regular employee of the supply of labour firm or have obtained Optional insurance for yourself as an independent operator. In either case you would be consider a worker who is entitled to WSIB benefits and not entitled to commence an action against a Schedule 1 employer. However, if you are a direct or regular worker of the supply of labour firm or have obtained Optional Insurance and the client is not a Schedule 1 employer, you can waive your right to WSIB benefits and commence an action against such employer or a worker/director/officer of such non-Schedule 1 employer. For example, insurance companies and banks are not required by law to have Schedule 1 WSIB coverage and could be sued if they have not voluntarily obtained WSIB coverage. It may be difficult though for you to determine whether such a client is a covered Schedule 1 employer.

    The recommended approach is to discuss with each staffing agency whether you are considered a worker or not for WSIB coverage purposes. If you are not considered to be a worker, but rather considered to be an independent operator then you should contact the WSIB to obtain Optional Insurance. It is really very inexpensive with a premium rate of between $0.17 and $0.36 for every $100.00 of coverage based on your earnings up to a maximum of $73,300 for 2008. These are two of the lowest premium rates the WSIB has for all of the various business activities covered under Schedule 1 and likely the applicable rate will be $0.17. At $0.17 the 2008 annual premiums at the maximum level of earnings would be $124.61. The cost of Optional Insurance would be pro-rated based on the period of 2008 for which coverage was obtained. However, the annual minimum premium is $100.00. The advantage of being considered an independent operator with your own Optional Insurance is that once you have such WSIB coverage in place it is portable and you are protected whenever and wherever you are working.

    I hope this helps and please call me if you have any questions.

    Mary McIninch
    Manager of Government Relations
    Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services
    1-888-232-4962

  6. 1. Regarding WSIB, what is the status of a contract worker under those regulations?

    Response:

    The status of a contract worker under the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act (WSIA) will depend on the coverage status of such contractor. A contractor can be:

    a. A worker;

    b. An independent operator without Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) optional insurance; or

    c. An independent operator with WSIB optional insurance.

    Contractors ruled by the WSIB to be workers (or employees) and contractors who have obtained WSIB optional insurance are covered by the WSIB in case of work-related accident and can claim benefits from the WSIB.

    Whether a contractor is a worker or an independent operator depends on many factors such as the terms and conditions of the written agreement with the staffing agency, whether the contractors is incorporated or not, etc., but ultimately whether the contractor is truly operating his or her own business separate and distinct from the staffing agency. Some staffing agencies have obtained rulings from either the WSIB or the Workplace Safety & Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) that either their incorporated subcontractors are independent operators, or possibly also their unincorporated subcontractors are independent operators. Other staffing agencies have not obtained such rulings and really by default WSIB coverage is in place for all of the contractors retained.

    For those contractors working for staffing agencies where the WSIB or WSIAT have ruled that certain contractors are independent operators – those contractors can apply for what the WSIB calls Optional Insurance in order to have insurance coverage for themselves. The cost of such coverage for a single contractor is approximately $125.00 per year based on the 2008 earnings maximum of $73,300. A contractor should ask the staffing agency whether their contractors are covered by the WSIB or whether the contractor should obtain his/her own WSIB Optional Insurance

    2. I have always wondered what my recourse would be should my client drop (accidentally I hope!) a filing cabinet on my foot.

    Response:

    It will all depend on whether you are considered by the WSIB to be a worker of the staffing agency or an independent operator, and then if an independent operator, whether you have obtained Optional Insurance. If you have WSIB coverage as a worker or an independent operator with WSIB Optional Insurance, which would be under Schedule 1 of WSIA and the client is also covered under Schedule 1 of WSIA, then you can claim WSIB benefits, but you cannot sue the client for damages for the workplace injury.

    If you are an independent operator without WSIB Optional Insurance, whether or not you can pursue a lawsuit against any party will depend on who was at fault in causing your injury.

    3. My assumption is that there is no WSIB coverage because WSIB is for full-time employees only.

    Response:

    You should enquire with each staffing agency that retains your services to determine whether or not they are required by the WSIB to provide coverage for your particular situation. Alternatively you can ask the WSIB to make a ruling as to whether you are a true independent operator or if you are the worker of the staffing agency that retains your services. The WSIB will conduct what is known of as an organization test to determine whether in their opinion you operate a business that is separate and distinct from the staffing agency. If they rule you operate your own business you would be considered to be an independent operator.

    4. As I understand it, a worker covered under WSIB gives up the right to sue the employer in the event of an injury. In return, the worker gets fair compensation from WSIB.

    Response:

    The business activity of supplying IT specialists is covered on a compulsory basis under Schedule 1 of WSIA. Schedule 1 of WSIA is simply a list of specified business activities grouped into classes of activity. If a contractor retained by a supply of labour firm is considered by the WSIB to be a worker then according to section 28(1) of WSIA in the case of a work related injury he or she is not entitled to commence an action against any Schedule 1 employer or a director, executive officer or worker employed by any Schedule 1 employer. This means an injured worker is not entitled to sue his or her own employer or any other Schedule 1 employer.

    5. As a contract worker, would my only recourse be to sue the client in the (unlikely) event of a workplace injury? Would my staffing agency back me up?

    Response:

    If you are considered a worker of the supply of labour firm – you would not be entitled to sue the client if such client is a Schedule 1 employer. This is the case whether you are just a direct worker or regular employee of the supply of labour firm or have obtained Optional insurance for yourself as an independent operator. In either case you would be consider a worker who is entitled to WSIB benefits and not entitled to commence an action against a Schedule 1 employer. However, if you are a direct or regular worker of the supply of labour firm or have obtained Optional Insurance and the client is not a Schedule 1 employer, you can waive your right to WSIB benefits and commence an action against such employer or a worker/director/officer of such non-Schedule 1 employer. For example, insurance companies and banks are not required by law to have Schedule 1 WSIB coverage and could be sued if they have not voluntarily obtained WSIB coverage. It may be difficult though for you to determine whether such a client is a covered Schedule 1 employer.

    The recommended approach is to discuss with each staffing agency whether you are considered a worker or not for WSIB coverage purposes. If you are not considered to be a worker, but rather considered to be an independent operator then you should contact the WSIB to obtain Optional Insurance. It is really very inexpensive with a premium rate of between $0.17 and $0.36 for every $100.00 of coverage based on your earnings up to a maximum of $73,300 for 2008. These are two of the lowest premium rates the WSIB has for all of the various business activities covered under Schedule 1 and likely the applicable rate will be $0.17. At $0.17 the 2008 annual premiums at the maximum level of earnings would be $124.61. The cost of Optional Insurance would be pro-rated based on the period of 2008 for which coverage was obtained. However, the annual minimum premium is $100.00. The advantage of being considered an independent operator with your own Optional Insurance is that once you have such WSIB coverage in place it is portable and you are protected whenever and wherever you are working.

    I hope this helps and please call me if you have any questions.

    Mary McIninch
    Manager of Government Relations
    Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services
    1-888-232-4962

  7. Now you can see why I asked Mary to answer! She rocks, and this kind of information is exactly why ACSESS brings such value to its members.

    It is easy for staffing companies to go “offside” with all of the diffeent legislation, at Provincial or Federal levels in addition to separate agencies such as WSIB.

    By being a part of the industry association we can, at a minimum “keep up”, but better yet … get involved and work with these authorities to ensure we are part of the solution!

  8. Now you can see why I asked Mary to answer! She rocks, and this kind of information is exactly why ACSESS brings such value to its members.

    It is easy for staffing companies to go “offside” with all of the diffeent legislation, at Provincial or Federal levels in addition to separate agencies such as WSIB.

    By being a part of the industry association we can, at a minimum “keep up”, but better yet … get involved and work with these authorities to ensure we are part of the solution!

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