I’m a Contractor. Do I Need WorkSafeBC Coverage?

As an independent or self-employed contractor, understanding who is responsible for obtaining WorkSafeBC coverage can be confusing. Whether you’re a graphic designer working once a week in your client’s office or an electrician working on a construction site, you’ll encounter dangers in your day-to-day work. So, it’s essential to know who is responsible if something ever happens.

WorkSafeBC Coverage Requirements for Self-Employed Contractors

We posed the following scenarios to WorkSafeBC to help understand the requirements of a self-employed contractor. Here’s what they said:

Scenario 1:  I am a self-employed contractor. I have the opportunity to sign a contract with a client and one of the stipulations is that I have to have my own WorkSafeBC account. What are my options? 

Based on the information you provided, you won’t be considered a “worker.” So, you’ll need to register as an independent business or operator instead. Personal Optional Protection (POP) coverage is voluntary, optional insurance that will cover lost salary and medical expenses in cases of work-related injury or disease. You can also apply for POP coverage on behalf of your spouse, should it be relevant to you. 

For more information, go to the WorkSafeBC website and review registration questions or contact the Employer Service Centre.

Scenario 2: I am a self-employed contractor who has been asked to register and pay for WorkSafeBC myself. Why am I being made to pay for it when I don’t want the personal coverage?

Since you’re not considered a “worker” at the company, you won’t need to be covered under their WorkSafeBC account. Personal coverage insurance for self-employed, unincorporated contractors is voluntary. But, some larger businesses will require all their sub-contractors to have their own WorkSafeBC insurance and other business liability insurance.

Scenario 3: I am a self-employed contractor who has never been asked by a client if I have my own WorkSafeBC coverage. Can I just assume that I am covered by my client? Or must I question them about the coverage?

You should definitely discuss this with your clients. Only “workers,” as defined by the Workers’ Compensation Act, are automatically covered if injured at work. If you’re running your own business as a sole proprietor, you can apply for voluntary coverage, but you wouldn’t be automatically covered if you were injured at work.

Understanding Who Should and Should Not Register

In general, we advise you to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Worker – If you’re considered a “worker” as defined by the Workers’ Compensation Act, you don’t need to and won’t be permitted to register for WorkSafeBC coverage.
  • Employer – If you’re an employer that hires other “workers” to work for you, you may be required to register for WorkSafeBC coverage for them.
  • Contractor – If you’re a contractor, your registration requirement depends on many criteria. And your specific situation can be complicated depending on your circumstances. For more detailed information, take a look at WorkSafeBC’s Practice Directives.

Please Note:

The answers in this article are intended to provide general guidance and not address specific situations. Each circumstance depends on the employment relationship and the work being done.

Please consult the WorkSafeBC website or contact the Employer Service Centre for specific answers to your situation.

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