What is the organizational test?
The WSIB uses a test, known as the “organizational test,” to determine whether a person is a worker or an independent operator.
The distinction between workers and independent operators is important because, as a general rule, workers are automatically covered by workplace insurance, but independent operators are not. (An important exception is the construction industry, where workers, independent operators, sole proprietors, partners in partnerships and executive officers of corporations are automatically covered by workplace insurance.)
A full explanation of who is covered by workplace insurance under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act is contained in Who is Covered by the Act?
What does the test look at?
The organizational test looks at the following factors:
- Control over the work. For example, if someone controls when you work, where you work and how you work, it is more likely that you are a worker and not an independent operator.
- Ownership of tools or equipment.
- Chance of profit or risk of loss. For example, if you have the ability to make decisions about the costs incurred in doing work and these decisions have a significant influence on the amount of your profit, it is more likely that you are an independent operator and not a worker.
- Whether a person is part of the employer’s organization or operating their own separate business.
- Other work factors. For example, if you work for only one payer, and you are required to submit regular reports to the payer, and you do not control the worksite, then it is more likely that you are a worker.
Not every factor needs to be present in every case and no one factor will determine the issue.
How does the WSIB apply the organizational test?
To gather the information needed to apply the organizational test, the WSIB has developed questionnaires about a person’s status as a worker or as an independent operator. There is one general questionnaire and five industry specific questionnaires. These are:
- retail stores
How can I get a questionnaire?
To get a questionnaire you can telephone the WSIB toll-free at: 1-800-387-0080 or (416) 344-4150 in Toronto. You can also visit the WSIB website and look under “Employers” and then “Forms”.
Who completes the questionnaire?
Both you and the principal (the company you currently have a contract with) complete the same questionnaire. You can complete separate questionnaires if you disagree about some of the answers or if you want to submit your financial information confidentially.
What kind of information do I need to provide in the questionnaire?
The information you need to provide varies depending on the form. If we look at the general questionnaire as an example, it asks for the following:
Part 1 – general information. For example, describe the work that the individual does; is there a written contract and has the individual ever had a WSIB account number.
Part 2 – specific information about who controls the working conditions. For example, who gives instructions; who provides training; who decides the hours of work; who decides the order of work; and what is the manner of payment.
Part 3 – the ownership of assets used and the responsibility for costs incurred in performing the work.
Part 4 – other work criteria. For example, does the individual have a continuing relationship with the principal; does the individual work for more than one principal at a time; can the individual hire other workers without the principal’s approval; is the individual able to hire workers to assist; and is the individual required to submit reports to the principal.
How does the WSIB decide if I am a worker?
The WSIB will review the responses to the questionnaire and, based on the responses, will decide whether you are an independent operator or a worker. If you are found to be an independent operator then you would not be covered by the Act unless you apply to the WSIB for optional insurance. For details about how to apply and what kind of coverage is offered, see Optional Insurance.
What if I disagree with the WSIB’s decision?
If you disagree with the WSIB’s decision, you have six months to start an appeal by sending the WSIB a completed Intent to Object Form.
This publication contains general information only. It is not legal advice about a particular situation and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified representative. This publication was last updated on the revision date listed below.
January 1, 2013