Independent Contractors in Ontario and the Right to Disconnect
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace and employment, in general, has given rise to the realization that employees should be entitled to a right to disconnect Ontario from their work.
The right to disconnect has been widely accepted as a necessary workplace policy. In one Employment and Social Development Canada survey, the right to disconnect was supported by 93% of the respondents.
What is the right to disconnect?
Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, 2021, defines the Right to Disconnect as granting workers the right to not engage in work-related communications so that they are free from the performance of work outside of work hours.
Bill 27 can be seen as a nod to the changing and fast-evolving standards of the workplace. Arguably one of the lasting impacts of the pandemic is the widespread adoption of the hybrid workplace. In Ontario adopting legislation that recognizes a need to ensure a right to disconnect Ontario from the now blurred line between the workplace and home, it is possible that other provinces follow suit.
Employees, through their employment agreements, may be subject to a written policy stipulating the right to disconnect Ontario. However, this policy may be unilaterally drafted by the employer.
Limitations regarding independent contractors
While the Ontario government aims to respond to such concerns with the passing of Bill 27, not all workers are entitled to this right. One group of workers that are excluded from the legislation are those working as independent contractors. With Ontario being the first province to legislate the right to disconnect, it is nonetheless important for all workers and employers to have an understanding of how this legislation may impact their workplace.
However, the right currently applies only to workplaces that retain 25 employees or more at the beginning of a given year. This means that workers who are not employed but rather work as independent contractors are not entitled to the right to disconnect Ontario .
The relationship between an independent contractor and a business is based upon a traditional business-to-business contractual agreement, whereas the right to disconnect policy only applies to employees.
Independent contractors, who are excluded from the reach of Bill 27, can still benefit from a right to disconnect by trying to draft their own disconnect clause within their employment contracts.
Contact Achkar Law
Whether you are an employer or an employee needing assistance with reviewing or drafting an employment agreement or workplace policy, our team of experienced employment and human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help.
Concerned About Contractor vs. Employee Classification?
Misclassifying employees as contractors—or vice versa—can lead to significant legal and financial risks for both individuals and companies. Understanding the distinctions and implications under Ontario’s employment laws is crucial. Achkar Law specializes in clarifying these complex issues, offering guidance to ensure compliance and protect all parties’ rights. If you’re uncertain about your or your workers’ classification, we’re here to help.