The World Isn’t Flat and Staffing Agencies Don’t Create a Safe Harbour for Independent Contractors

Posted By | 2017-11-01T16:39:00+00:00 November 29th, 2016|Contractors, Employers|

Perception versus reality has always been a fascinating phenomenon to me. The world is flat and if you sail too far, you will fall off the earth. What made those first few sailors venture a bit further than the last? What made them say, “I don’t think it’s true but let’s see how far we can go before the end. We can turn back.”

One thing that I have learned over the past few years when I look at the political world, business world or even the sports world, it’s all about the narrative. What is the story one tells to make others believe that the story they are being told is the truth? That the storyteller is credible and that “he must know what he is talking about”.

I sat in a meeting with an owner of a staffing agency when we were discussing possibly working together and building an alliance between our companies. When I presented them with facts outlining that they as a company do not provide protection to Independent Contractors as a safe harbour from CRA deeming those contractors as an “Incorporated Employee”; he had a tough time accepting the truth. I shared that I was surprised by his reaction, and he explained that for years now they have been demonstrating it in the marketplace by their service. And that all agencies had the same stance on the matter. That was his narrative! That was the story he and his company were telling to companies. He spoke with a straight face and was not intending to be misleading or dishonest. I know that his intent was to be the credible voice in a vacuum of knowledge and facts. I inquired if he was aware of the case law showing that they are not in fact providing a safe harbour for Independent Contractors. “Not really” he responded. I presented the court case, and when I saw his reaction I knew for sure he had not been trying to be misleading on the point in question. The court case was one that his company had lost over a decade ago. I could see he was embarrassed and stunned.

He looked at the CFO sitting next to him and asked, “Do you remember this?” to which the CFO responded, “That was way before my time.”

Narrative! It is an uphill battle for some of us prophesizing with facts and truth when the market is in the position to believe what they want to believe or what they perceive is the only trusted voice out there.

I am sure Noah (known for building the Ark) had a similar feeling to the one I have when it comes to knowing something important that others need to hear, but they have a tough time hearing it through all the noise. So, before the rain starts, and while I have your ear for a moment it is important I share that the misconception I outlined in this article is not the only common misconception regarding Independent Contractors and Dependent Contractors in the market place today.