For most of us, paperwork is just a minor nuisance that we try to avoid. However, as tedious as it is to fill out, paperwork is important for protecting you, your contractor, and the general public.
With Canada’s economy still recovering some less scrupulous handymen may be inclined to save some money by cutting corners and not paying for the proper permits for your project. This could put them, and you, on the wrong side of the law so before you hire a handyman company make sure they have the proper credentials.
Here are five important pieces of paperwork you should make sure your handyman of choice has before you sign on the dotted line.
Workers Compensation Board
Each province governs its own Workers Compensation Board (WCB), a governing body that takes responsibility for all work-related injuries employees may suffer on the job. Employers pay for insurance coverage from the board, which in turn uses that money to pay out compensation claims to injured workers.
When choosing a handyman company or contractor you should always make sure you go with an individual or company that has coverage through your province’s WCB. This not only ensures you are supporting companies that care about their employees’ well being but also exempts you from any liability should a crew member become injured while working on your property.
Individuals receive WCB compensation regardless of who, or what caused their injury. Unscrupulous independent contractors who don’t have WCB coverage can easily twist the truth and offload responsibility for any accidents or injuries onto you, the owner of the project.
General Liability Insurance
A good contractor will carry general liability insurance in addition to WCB coverage. WCB only applies to workers, not the general public.
General liability insurance protects you from responsibility should a member of the public get injured or have their property damaged because of something related to your project.
Even if the accident is caused by your handyman’s carelessness or negligence you can both still be held liable if your contractor does not have general liability insurance.
General liability insurance also protects you if your handyman is injured while working on your property.
Without General Liability Insurance your handyman can sue you if they get hurt while working on your property. As a response to this many home insurance companies will not cover legal costs related to incidents like this because it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure they hire a handyman with general liability insurance.
A Business License
The purpose of business licenses is to legally prove that an individual or company is authorized to operate their business within a particular jurisdiction and that they have met the minimum requirements needed to safely do their work as outlined by the jurisdiction.
A business license also proves that the individual or company has demonstrated proof of their expertise in their area of specialization, and verifies that they have all the necessary credentials.
These credentials include things like trade tickets (showing proof of expertise), as well as WCB insurance coverage and general liability insurance.
Articles of Incorporation
Incorporated businesses, as opposed to sole proprietorships, that specialize in handyman repair services, have legal recognition and stand out easily from the crowd. Once a business is incorporated they will likely include the word “Incorporated” or its shortened form “Inc.” in their name.
Incorporated businesses are more likely to be run by qualified professionals and offer warranties on their work. However, you should never just assume that a business will offer warranties and stand behind their work, so be sure to ask.
A GST Account
Most Canadians have at least a basic understanding of what GST is. GST (Government Sales Tax) is a consumption tax that is levied against certain products and services, including property maintenance and repair.
The tax is collected by the individual businesses providing the goods or services on behalf of the government, and the revenue from the tax is passed on to the local government. Revenue collected from GST is then reinvested in the community by the local government in a variety of ways.
In Canada, all contractors carrying on business are legally required to register for GST and obtain a business number if you make taxable sales, leases, or other supplies in Canada and are not classified as a small supplier.
If you engage a contractor that is required to contribute to the GST but does not both you and the contractor could end up in legal trouble.
Paperwork may seem dull, but it exists for a reason. Insurance is there to shield property owners like you from liability, business licenses and articles of incorporation exist to ensure the company or individual you hire has reasonably high safety standards and performs quality work, and GST and other taxes ensure that businesses give back their fair share to the community.
As the property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the contractor or handyman you choose has all their paperwork in order before you sign any contracts. If you choose a handyman that does not have all the appropriate paperwork you could leave yourself vulnerable to lawsuits or other legal action.