Homeowners, don’t be on the hook for insurance premiums

Hiring people to do work around your home for jobs like construction, gardening, or child care? You might need to apply for workers’ compensation coverage. 

Photo of a wheelbarrow and shovel next to a flowerbed outside a home

Photo credit: iStock.com/ozgurcoskun

I’ve seen so many home renovations and landscaping revamps while walking through my neighbourhood lately. Sometimes it’s the homeowners and renters doing the jobs themselves, but usually they’re paying others to do the work. Homeowners and renters often hire people for jobs like adding garden beds, doing construction projects, babysitting, and housecleaning.

Did you know that hiring people to do work in or around your home means you may need WorkSafeBC coverage? It all depends on what they are doing, how long they’ll be working for you, and whether they are your workers or if you have hired an independent business to do the work.

To find out more, I talked with Andrea Friesen, a research and evaluation analyst with WorkSafeBC’s Assessments division. She works with a call centre team that answers questions from employers, including people hiring workers for jobs at their homes.

Get clearance letters when hiring independent businesses

In many cases, the person doing the work for you is self-employed and is registered with WorkSafeBC as an independent business. In these situations, Andrea says, your first step is to get a clearance letter from WorkSafeBC. The clearance letter lets you know if the business you’re hiring is registered and in good standing with WorkSafeBC. Without the clearance letter, there’s the potential for liability. “If the contractor is required to register, and either is not registered or is not in good standing, then you as the homeowner could be liable for assessments related to work done at your home.”

Andrea added that some people think having another form of insurance, like personal liability insurance, is an alternative, but it is not.

When do you need to register with WorkSafeBC?

If you’re hiring your own worker, then you may need to register with WorkSafeBC and apply for workers’ compensation coverage. Here are some examples of situations in which hiring your own worker means you’re required to register and apply for coverage:

  • You hire a babysitter to watch your children after school for 15 or more hours a week
  • You hire a home health worker to care for an elderly family member for 8 or more hours a week
  • You hire workers to re-do the landscaping in your front yard (a one-time project) and the time they work totals 24 hours or more (for example, three workers work 9 hours each, so the job takes 27 hours)

More examples and information about when homeowners need to apply for coverage is available online.

And even if your situation doesn’t require you to have coverage, you can still apply for voluntary coverage to protect yourself and your worker.

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