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FAQ - Mandatory Coverage in Construction

What is mandatory coverage in construction all about?

It means that people who own or run a business in construction, with or without employees, must have coverage with the WSIB and need to register with us (with some exceptions).

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Who does the WSIB consider an ‘independent operator’

An independent operator in construction is someone who:

  • performs Class G construction work
  • does not have employees
  • works as contractor or subcontractor for more than one person during an 18-month period
  • reports as ‘self-employed’ to a government agency, like the Canada Revenue Agency

See details on the independent operators in construction page.

Are there exemptions to mandatory coverage in construction?

Yes. There are two exemptions:

  1. Individuals, partnerships or corporations performing home renovation work only, and who are hired and paid directly by the home’s owner or resident. People that run a home renovation business with employees must be registered with us to insure the employees, but are exempt from coverage for themselves.
  2. The second exemption applies to:
    • corporations and partnerships with employees
    • corporations without employees but with multiple executive officers
    • partnerships without employees

One executive officer or one partner may apply for an exemption; however, to qualify, the individual must not perform any construction work (periodic site visits are permitted). Only one person per company can be exempt.

If you are exempt from mandatory coverage, you do not have to be covered by the WSIB and are not entitled to any benefits, however, you can apply for optional insurance.

For specific criteria for exemptions, see our policy on expanded compulsory coverage in construction (PDF).

Is there a separate rate for partners or executive officers?

Yes. Rate group 755-Non-Exempt Partner and Executive Officer in Construction is for individuals who are partners or executive officers and:

  • do not perform any construction work
  • are not the individual who has elected to be exempt

In order to get this separate rate, the partnership or corporation must request it by completing the Request for Rate Group 755, Non-Exempt Partner and Executive Officer in Construction form.

Sole proprietors and independent operators are not eligible for this rate.

Can I visit the construction site if I have an exemption from coverage or rate 755?

Yes, you can periodically visit the construction site as long as you do not perform any construction work when on site. Construction work refers to any manual work of a skilled or unskilled nature, the operation of equipment or machinery or the direct on-site supervision of workers.

I typically only do home renovation work but occasionally I take on a commercial job. Do I still qualify for the home renovation exemption?

If you only do home renovation work and are paid by the home’s owner or resident you don't need WSIB coverage. However, if you take on even one contract this is not a home renovation, you no longer meet the criteria for exemption. This means you need to register, report your earnings and pay premiums for coverage on both the home renovation and non-home renovation earnings for a minimum period of three months.

You may cancel coverage after the minimum period of three months if you stop doing construction work outside of home renovations.

How much does coverage with the WSIB cost?

The cost of coverage depends on earnings and your business activities. To get an estimate of your premiums, see our insurable earnings and premium estimator for the construction industry.

Is there a maximum to the amount of earnings that I have to report?

Yes, we set an annual maximum amount that you have to report as insurable earnings each year. See the current year’s maximum.

How often do I report and pay premiums?

Your report and pay schedule may be monthly, quarterly or annually depending on your estimated annual total insurable earnings.  See more on reporting and paying frequency.

What are insurable earnings and how do I calculate them?

Your business’ insurable earnings, or payroll information, is what you will pay your employees for the current year. This information is reported on your employees' pay stubs or T4 slips as gross earnings, including deductions for income tax, CPP and employment insurance. Insurable earnings can also include earnings not reported on a T4 such as room and board, bonuses and commissions.

For construction, how insurable earnings are calculated and reported depends on your business type.

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Do I have to report the dividends I receive from my company?

Yes, dividends paid by an employer to executive officers are considered insurable earnings, unless the employer is a holding company. To determine if your organization is considered a holding company by us see our policy on Holding Companies.

For more details on insurable earnings, see our policy on Determining Insurable Earnings.

Is there a tool that will help me calculate earnings?

The insurable earnings and premium estimator for the construction industry can help you estimate the insurable earnings and premium amounts for your construction business.

What if my business has multiple rates or business activities and at least one is a construction rate?

Mandatory coverage rules apply to any business that performs a business activity in a construction rate group (Class G). Businesses with more than one classification unit (CU) need to identify insurable earnings that are considered direct or common. This helps calculate their total insurable earnings amount.

See details on how to assign insurable earnings in construction.

What if I operate a dump truck on a construction site?

Individuals with no employees who are operating a dump truck to deliver and remove product from construction sites (such as gravel, fill or aggregated) must complete Determining Worker/Independent Operator Status Questionnaire - Trucking Industry (1149A) (PDF).

If you are confirmed as an independent operator in a business that is not construction (Class G), mandatory coverage in construction does not apply to you and you do not need to register. However, if you are asked to provide a clearance you can apply for optional insurance.

See more information on independent operator status for those that are not in construction.

How do clearances work?

Principals must get or require contractors to provide clearances before beginning any construction work. With the exception of home renovation work, contractors must have WSIB coverage and ensure their account is up to date to be eligible for clearances.

See more information on clearances in construction.

What will happen if I do not register or get a clearance?

You could miss work or lose a contract. The law requires a clearance to be in place before any construction work starts. If you do not have a clearance, the principal may refuse you entry to the jobsite until you have one. To be eligible for a clearance, you must have WSIB coverage and ensure your account is up to date.

What are the benefits of WSIB coverage that are different from private insurance?

By registering with us and paying premiums you:

  • get affordable workplace insurance you can rely on to protect your employees
  • have no-fault workplace insurance that protects you from costly court settlements and provides services and support when you and your employees need it
  • have peace of mind of knowing you have the best coverage for your business
  • can access programs and services designed to help improve your workplace health and safety over time. This will help keep you informed, prepared and allow you to adjust for the future
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