Effective January 1, 2013, nearly everyone who works in the construction industry must have Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) coverage. While the law already requires employers to cover their workers, mandatory coverage will now extend to independent operators, sole proprietors, executive officers of corporations and partners in partnerships.

The new law creates exemptions for home renovators, executive officers and partners. The exemption for home renovators applies to those who work exclusively in home renovation and do not employ workers, work directly for the homeowner, and are paid directly by the homeowner. The other exemptions apply to corporations and partnerships with workers, corporations without workers but with multiple executive officers, and partnerships without workers. Any of these businesses may select one executive officer or partner to apply for an exemption.

These amendments also expand the obligations of principals and contractors/subcontractors to obtain clearance certificates starting January 1, 2013. Principals must require these newly included contractors/subcontractors to provide clearance certificates before starting any construction work. Conversely, these newly included contractors/subcontractors must have WSIB coverage, report and pay their premiums on time so that they are eligible for a clearance certificate, and provide a clearance certificate prior to starting any construction work.

Independent operators, sole proprietors, executive officers or partners may choose to pre-register now for coverage that will take effect in 2013. Pre-registration with the WSIB is free and there are no premiums to pay until 2013.

While the WSIB has published a policy stating that between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 it will waive penalties and/or refrain from investigating and/or laying applicable provincial offence charges when an employer or individual is non-compliant with respect to their new registration and clearance certificate obligations, it would be prudent for these individuals to do so prior to January 1, 2013. In addition, it is recommended that employers expand their clearance certificate gathering practices to include these newly covered individuals and to obtain valid clearance certificates from these individuals during the tendering process, at the start of the construction work, during the construction work and after the construction work is completed in order to limit their liability for offences and any outstanding amounts owing to the WSIB.