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What is an independent contractor?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2019 | Employment Law

An independent contractor is a little different than an employee. As such, both the employer and the contractor should be aware of what types of legal restrictions and expectations may be included in a work agreement.

In some cases, even if an individual is hired as a contractor, the individual may actually be an employee. According to the descriptions laid out on the Government of Ontario website, employment laws look at the relationship between a person and the business, not the label given to a worker. This means that if you think you should be receiving employee benefits even though you are a contractor, the law will examine the relationship you have with the business and determine if you meet the criteria of an employee.

The main differentiating factors are that if an employer can dictate the “how” and “when” of your work, then you may have a case that you are an employee. If you are more in control of how and when you do your work, you may actually be an independent contractor. Some other differences include:

Independent contractors:

  • Can subcontract
  • Decide on timing, place and duration of work
  • Generally uses own materials (but not always)


  • Can be disciplined and terminated
  • Generally use company property for work
  • Set timing and location for work

If you have questions about the type of employment contract you have signed, you may want to discuss your contract with an experienced employment lawyer. He or she can help you understand what your legal rights are, and how to best protect your interests. An employment lawyer can also advise employers on how to draft their employment contracts, and what types of lawful provisions they can include or enforce.