Employees or independent contractors?

Arts organizations struggle with the question of whether musicians and dancers are employees or independent contractors

Musicians and dancers are planning to meet with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency to try to come to an understanding about their status as employees or self-employed contractors.

Many arts organizations have struggled with the question of whether musicians who work for an orchestra or dancers who perform with a dance company are employees of the organization or independent contractors.

The designation is a critical one, because it impacts how the organizations and individuals are taxed by CCRA, what deductions can be made and what benefits must be paid out.

The CCRA was criticized by artists after it made a decision last year to recognize performing organizations as employers.

“It seems to us to be a backsliding from positions artists had won previously,” Megan Davis Williams, the national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, told CBC news. “In the past, artists had the right to choose whether they were self-employed or not.”

Susan Wallis, executive director of the Canadian Actors Equity Association, said artists aren’t looking for special treatment and just want the same rights as other independent contractors who have the power to decide what their relationship is with their employer.

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