Labour & Employment Law Blog

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary

Contrary to popular belief, the presence of an agreement stipulating that a person is an independent contractor rather than an employee is not determinative of one’s status in the eyes of the law. This is because the courts will look to the substance of the parties’ relationship, regardless of how they choose to classify it.


  • Whether or not work is done only for the purported employer / principal.
  • Who decides how, when and where services are provided?
  • Who has ownership of the “tools” with which services are provided?
  • Are payment arrangements under a fixed commission rate or is there fluctuation?
  • What is a person’s position in the business?
  • Who makes business decisions and how?
  • Who has the right to hire and fire other employees?

Although none of the above inquiries is determinative on their own, ultimately, the central question will revolve around whose business it truly is and to what extent control is exercised over the independent contractor / employee.

Why does any of this matter? Because, whether or not you are classified as an employee or independent contractor may have a serious impact on what rights you have upon termination of your work relationship with the principal / employer.

The first advantage that you would have as an employee is that you would get protections under various legislation that an independent contractor would not have access to. Arguably the most important are the rights set out in the Employment Standards Act that allow employees to get, amongst many other things, vacation time and pay as well as minimum statutory termination pay and severance.

The second advantage is that you would be allowed to collect employment insurance (“EI”) if your employment is terminated. This is because employers are forced to collect and pay EI and CPP contributions on behalf of their employees. Expectations under these statutory regimes with respect to independent contractors are more nuanced.

Depending on whether or not you have properly agreed to a fixed notice period, the third advantage is that in addition to the statutory rights discussed above, as an employee, you may be entitled to a reasonable period of notice at common law if faced with a termination of employment.

Understanding your status is an art and each case always has a unique set of facts and circumstances that would warrant the opinion of a trained legal professional. What is sure, however, is that a determination of what you “really are” may have a significant impact on your entitlements.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.