In McKee v. Reid's Heritage Homes Ltd., the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that the law recognizes "dependent contractor" as an intermediate status between employee and independent contractor and that dependent contractors are entitled to reasonable notice of termination.
In this case, the plaintiff, McKee, entered in to an exclusive contract to sell homes for the defendant. In 2005, the defendant advised McKee that she would have to become an employee. McKee refused, terminated the contract, and sued for wrongful dismissal. The trial judge found that McKee was an employee and was entitled to notice of termination. On appeal, the defendant argued that McKee was a dependent contractor and was not entitled to reasonable notice of termination. The Court of Appeal confirmed that the law recognizes an intermediate category of "non-employment work relationships" known as dependent contractors and that these workers are entitled to reasonable notice of termination. According to the court, the first step in the analysis is to determine if the worker is a contractor or an employee. If the worker is a contractor, the second step is to determine whether he or she is independent or dependent. In this step, the court stated that evidence of exclusivity in the relationship is determinative of dependent contractor status as it shows economic dependence. In McKee's case, the court upheld the trial judge's finding that she was an employee based on the fact that McKee worked exclusively for the defendant and was subject to its control The fact that McKee worked in premises and used tools provided by the defendant, she was financially dependent, and she formed a crucial part of the defendant's business were also relevant factors in the analysis.
This decision is significant because it clarifies a long line of inconsistent case law and firmly establishes that dependent contractors are entitled to reasonable notice of termination.