Labour & Employment Law Blog

Independent Contractor or Employee?

I just lost my job.  My former employer classified my position as an “independent contractor” and has not provided me any notice of the termination.  However, I am not so sure that I am actually an “independent contractor” because my former employer controlled a lot about my job including when and how the work was performed. 

This is very common issue in employment law.  Employers often mischaracterize actual employees as independent contractors.  For instance, the employer may want to avoid payroll taxes or liabilities related to notice and termination.  This mischaracterization often comes into play when the employer decides to fire the “independent contractor” because independent contractors are not owed any notice.  The “independent contractor” in this circumstance may challenge their characterization as an independent contractor in an effort to receive notice of termination or pay in lieu thereof.   The “independent contractor” could either file a statement of claim to request that a court order the employer to pay severance.  They may also file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour in an effort to enforce their rights under the Employment Standards Act.

A variety of factors are used to determine if an “independent contractor” has been mischaracterized and is actually an employee.  For instance, questions will be asked as to who controls the work being done, who sets the work hours, who provides the tools and materials related to the worker…etc.  Generally, the more freedom and autonomy the “independent contractor” has the more likely that an “independent contractor” is actually an employee.  It is important to note that this would be true regardless of whether or not the “independent contractor” has agreed in writing to be an independent contractor, provided the employer with invoices for payment or has been charging HST.

If you have any questions about these matters or whether or not to file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, we strongly recommend that you talk with a lawyer.  Please note that a complaint filed with the Ministry of Labour is limited to the minimum standards of the Employment Standards Act.  You may have greater rights under the common law.

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.