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When are sub-contractors your employees?

by , 10 October 2013
A sub-contractor is a contractor employed by you as the principal contractor. But, do you know if sub-contractors are also your employees and if you have legal obligations towards them? Read on to find out so you won't be caught on the wrong side of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

If you're not sure of how the OHSA regulates the relationship between you and your sub-contractors don't worry, the Health & Safety Advisor has an explanation for you.

Sub-contractors are your employees under these circumstances

According to the Health & Safety Advisor, difficulties can arise when courts ask you whether your sub-contractors are self-employed or direct employees of your business, relating to matters outside safety.

That's why it's advisable in terms of health and safety to treat self-employed and labour-only sub-contractors the same as your employees.

Remember, Section 37 of the OHSA regulates the relationship between you as the principal contractor and your sub-contractors

Your sub-contractors must ensure that their employees–  especially supervisors and operators of machinery, vehicles and plant – are aware of the safety obligations placed on them by contract, as well as under statutory and common law.

Make sure your sub-contractors comply with these three safety obligations.

Please note that although a sub-contractor is your responsibility if you're the principal contractor, he's still an employer in his own right.

This means both you and your sub-contractor are responsible for your employees, but your sub-contractor's employees become your responsibility when you've employed them yourself.

The bottom line: Treat your sub-contractors the same as your employees and ensure your sub-contractors comply with the same moral, legal and mutual obligations as you to successfully carry out any contracts you've been awarded.

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