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Tag Archives: naccb

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to the National Association of Canadian Consulting Businesses (NACCB).

Contracting and the Underground Economy

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

The Underground Economy Doesn’t Apply to Independent IT Contractors… Or does it??

The Underground Economy Doesn't Apply to Independent IT Contractors... Or does it??The topic of Canada’s underground economy seems to be raised again and again over the course of years and tends to come in waves — we’re seeing one now.  In the last week alone, I’ve read several newspaper articles and even heard it on my drive in on the News Talk radio station that I listen to.

What is the “underground economy”?  Sounds pretty sinister and, I suppose, parts of it might be, but it’s a lot more common than most people realize.  The CRA defines the underground economy as:

The underground economy is any activity that is unreported or under-reported for tax and GST/HST purposes. Often called “moonlighting” or “working under the table,” it can include bartering, failing to file tax returns, omitting an entire business activity from your tax return, “skimming” a portion of business income from what you report on your taxes, and not reporting a portion of employment income like tips and gratuities.

Generally, any income you earn is taxable and you have to report it on your tax return. If you don’t file your tax return or register your business for GST/HST when you’re supposed to, or you don’t report all of your income, you are participating in the underground economy.

So, by this definition, it is the guy down the street that does landscaping on the side; it’s the waiter who pockets your tip without claiming it as income; it’s the small business that accepts cash without putting it through the till.  Various newspaper articles estimate Canada’s underground economy to be worth between $42 Billion and $46 Billion — in aggregate, not a small amount.  That’s a lot of tax that is not being collected and everyone from the CRA to Chartered Accountants are looking at ways to curb these practices.  I’ve seen ideas ranging from legislating restaurants to track and report tip money on T-4’s to instituting a reward program for leads that result in $10,000 or more in taxes collected. (This latter already exists. CRA’s program is called the “Informant Leads Program” and, apparently, some of the most common “sources” of leads come from ex-business partners and divorced spouses).

As the economy is suffering and government spending is being spread very thin, this missing tax revenue is being highly coveted by government. But this doesn’t impact professional and/or technology contractors, does it?  After all, most are hired via a well-defined contract and have clear paper trails including time sheets, invoices and remittances.  The answer to that question is yes.  Well, maybe.  Certainly the paper trail will help in the case of an audit but by the time there’s an audit, the pain is already being felt.

Independent contractors (IT, Finance/Accounting, Engineering, etc.) should have concerns that the government may take a broad-brush approach to contractors/temporary labour in general; lumping them all together without full consideration for their differences.  This is one reason that Eagle belongs to (and has taken leadership in) such industry organizations as ACSESS and the NACCB, which are staffing industry associations who are actively lobbying the Canadian and Provincial governments on behalf of the industry and the contractors that are a part of it.

If you wish to learn more about the underground economy in Canada, I’ve attached links to some recent new articles below.  Let me know your thoughts on this issue by leaving a comment below!

The Ontario Government Mandate That Will Affect Independent Contractors across Canada

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

NACCBAs you may already know, I currently sit as the President of the Ottawa Chapter of the National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses (NACCB). The industry association represents over 70 IT Services firms in Canada , encompassing over 22,000 contractors, 2000 employees and more than $2.5 billion in revenues. One of the NACCB’s fundamental objectives is to represent the industry in public policy formulation.

We have recently been very involved in Ontario’s latest foray in to regulation in the contingent labour industry. The Ontario Government is headed towards more regulation and, unfortunately, it would very much appear this has the making of “good politics over good policy “.

The spotlight shone on the staffing industry in a bad way originally several years ago when the Toronto Star featured stories of individuals exploited by unethical and shady agencies. These companies deserved to be exposed for the bad organizations they were and suffer the consequences. No doubt, that kind of media exposure is deservedly detrimental to a company and contributes to it either correcting its practices or it will go out of business. Staffing Agencies are licensed in Ontario so there is a mechanism to correct or ultimately shut down such companies.

This was the same time the Ontario Government passed Bill 139 to regulate temporary employees and independent contractors in Ontario. Bill 18 followed in 2014 and largely established joint and several liability for both the agency and  client  for wages, overtime pay , public holiday pay, etc. Ultimately, this represented new risk for clients.

This leads us to today where last Winter, the Wynne Government of Ontario appointed two Special Advisors, lawyers with deep backgrounds in Labour Law, to lead a study in The Changing Workplace and Employment Review. The mandate, among many other things, will include reviewing the current and future world of temporary labour, including independent contractors.

Information SymbolTo date there have been multiple presentations which need to be considered before the Advisers will release their preliminary Report. The vast majority of which have been from Trade Unions and employee groups, union-related organizations like the Workers Action Centre (WAC)

Here are some of the recommendations being discussed among others:

  • 6 month limit on use of a variable temp or contractor before they would automatically become an employee;
  • Contingent labour to make up no more that 20% of workforce as well as the  total number of hours worked by assignment employees not to exceed 20% of all hours worked by employees;
  • Temporary workers must receive all benefits of employees;
  • Clients of agencies to be jointly liable for all rights under ESA;
  • Establish a reverse onus on employee status. In other words, all workers are presumed to be employees unless able to demonstrate otherwise, virtually ending or at least jeopardizing independent contractor status.

There are several other issues and proposals, many of which would substantially alter the temporary labour market. There are  a number of measures that add new risk to customers in joint liability to the extent that many of the measures, given experience in Europe and other countries, will see any organization that uses a contingent labour force as part of their workforce strategy to consider other options most notably offshoring.

Although this is an Ontario initiative it is easy to assume other provinces are looking very closely at what transpires in Canada’s most populous province. It is critical that employers and industry get engaged with this Review to offer the valid and compelling reasons that will allow business to survive and thrive in the ever changing 21st century work environment.

Update on the Federal Security Clearance Process

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

NACCBI believe it’s important to be involved and contribute to advancing the interests of the industry for the betterment of both clients and competitors, in addition to Eagle. To that end, in addition to my ‘day job’ at Eagle, I serve as the local Chapter President of the NACCB, our industry association that represents those interests and, here in Ottawa specifically, the majority of that focus audience is with the Federal Government. We are instrumental and very active in representing the IT Services industry in issues like Procurement and Contract Vehicles, CRA Employee- Employer concerns and, of most concern of late, Security and Federal Government Security Clearances. The Security Clearance process for independent contractors and vendors in Ottawa has become a very slow and cumbersome process, so much so that many contracts are delayed in being awarded and often cancelled altogether due only to the Security Process.

While all around Ottawa and the Federal Government there is consolidation, see Shared Services Canada, consolidation of Procurement vehicles and a National Procurement strategy, Security has gone the opposite way by becoming more complex and with different departments rendering and implementing their own Security Clearance processes. CISD, the organization that is responsible for Security Clearances, has recently engaged industry associations like NAACCB on a regular basis. To that end I would like to share some of their updates:

  • Here's an Update on the Federal Government Security Clearance ProcessThe new CISD Call Centre is in place and claims to have reduced delays and sped up their Clearances times against their own target metrics. For a simple clearance, ie. Reliability, CISD targets the process to be completed in 7 days or less and they hit that target 73% of the time on a target of 85%.
  • Complex Clearances ( ie. Secret Clearance) their target is to have 85% of applications completed in 120 days or less and they exceed that at 95%.
  • Overall backlog of requests have been reduced from 28000 to 18000.
  • PSOS (Private Sector Organization Screening), which all independent incorporated contractors must have in addition to their Personal Security Clearance, has increased 40 %. Contractors need to begin this process ASAP if they wish to be awarded Federal Government contracts.
  • With so many inaccuracies in forms (up to 95 %), CISD is receptive to a webinar on how to obtain a Security Clearance as well as a YouTube instruction.
  • Finally, beginning this summer fingerprints will be required for all Security Clearances and this requirement will be implemented over the next 2 years.

Hope this helps and stay tuned for further updates!

Is Your Staffing Company Involved in its Industry?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

The temporary labour/contract staffing industry has several industry associations.  They range from general staffing associations such as ACSESS (Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services) to associations based on a more specific subset of the overall industry like the NACCB (National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses).  As a basic foundation, these organizations represent the interests of the companies that comprise the industry and they set guidelines for industry best practices, business ethics and they will interface with other organizations (such as the Canadian Federal and Provincial governments) to ensure the market for human resources remains open for member organizations, Canadian businesses and workers (temporary or otherwise) alike.

NACCB and ACSESS logosNot all staffing companies belong to industry organizations and even fewer take an active role.  Why would this be important to incorporated contractors, sole proprietors and temporary workers?  Why should you care?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

By working with or through a staffing company that is directly and actively involved in Industry Associations, there are the following benefits:

  • They agree to operate to a higher standard – Industry Associations are quite prescriptive in how they expect companies to behave.  By becoming a member, staffing companies agree to a strict set of guidelines, standards and business ethics.
  • They are open to new ideas and are committed to improving their capability and services over time.  Industry Associations provide professional training and business development courses for their membership.  They work together to stay on the forefront of new trends so that they (and the contractor partners that they represent) remain relevant in the changing market.
  • They influence Canada’s employment rules and business environment through their work with government departments and committees.  They take part in business conferences and influence educational programming by providing relevant market data points for colleges and universities.  Through member companies, your collective voices are heard by organizations and institutions that matter.
  • They are up on the changing legal landscape.  Things like Deemed Co-Employment and Personal Services Businesses that directly impact the contractor community are better understood and, through sheer force of numbers, their messages are heard by policy makers.  Industry Associations are currently lobbying the government, seeking clarity for contract workers with respect to PSB policy.  Through clarity, Canada’s contract workforce will be able to make adjustments to reduce risk.  Industry Associations are taking the lead in this process to benefit all contractors.

Eagle takes our corporate citizenship very seriously.  We have been and continue to be extremely active contributors to ACSESS (Eagle’s CEO is on the board and has been a past President) and the NACCB (Eagle’s President is also the current President of the NACCB).  In addition, our President is a founding member of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT) and Eagle’s Vice-President of Government Services sits on the Informatics Professional Services Advisory Committee for the Federal Government.  Our company is also a member of a variety of industry organizations including the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  Because we know the importance of all of these organizations, we take every opportunity to educate the market as to their value and we encourage the participation of our peers.  In return, this promotes the standards and ethics in our industry and has positive effects on independent contractors across the country.

How much priority do you place on your agency’s industry involvement?  Do you think that you might consider it more often when choosing your agency?  Tell us why or why not, we’d love to get your opinion!

Staffing Agencies Do Not Charge Individuals

There are many beneficial reasons for independent contractors to work with staffing agencies.  Unfortunately, there are some negative views of our industry based on false pretenses.  A particular one is with respect to who pays for our services.  The straight answer to that is it is always the client.

Staffing agencies are the number one way for people to find work.  If you are a temporary employee or an independent contractor then likely you are going to find your next role through the staffing industry – and you should never have to pay for that right to work.

If you are a temporary employee in Ontario, Bill 139 made it illegal for an agency to charge you a fee to work. Whether that is to find you a job or some kind of fee tied to working, section 74.8 of the Employment Standards Act explains.

NACCB and ACSESS logosElsewhere, even if there is no legislation, both of Canada’s largest staffing industry associations have Codes of Conduct covering this subject, and both have Ethics Committees that will rule in cases where the codes might be broken.  (This is a valuable asset and a great reason why candidates should work with members of the industry association).

The Association of Canadian Search Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS) is Canada’s largest staffing industry association.  Their Code of Ethics states “We will derive income only from clients and make no direct or indirect charges to candidates or employees unless specified by a license.”

The National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses (NACCB) Canada represents the “professional” staffing companies.  Its Business Principles state “NACCB Canada members will derive income only from clients and make no direct or indirect charges to candidates unless specified by a license.”

Everyone has a right to work and staffing agencies earn their fees from their clients who receive the many benefits of a flexible workforce.  If you are ever asked to pay a fee to a staffing agency which is not voluntary then you might want to consider whether (a) it is legal, and/or (b) is it ethically in accordance with the Industry Association Codes of Ethics.  Your options then would be to contact the industry associations for advice and support.  Here is a link to the Board of Directors at ACSESS  and a link to the Board of Directors at NACCB.

Canada’s Staffing Industry provides their clients’ access to a flexible and talented workforce, and the industry provides individuals with a myriad of job opportunities.  Credible staffing companies operate under a strict code of conduct and all job seekers should work with credible companies, who abide by the industry codes of conduct.

Does Your Recruiter Work with an Industry Association

Why Should You Work with a Staffing Company with Industry Association Membership?

Eagle is a strong proponent of participation in associations and memberships within our industry, and we believe that any good corporate citizen really should belong to industry associations.  So why is it important to a candidate, independent contractor or temporary employee to choose to work with an association member in lieu of a non-member?

  1. Serious companies recognize the need to support associations.  Working with a company that belongs to an industry association means that you are working with a company that is serious about their business.
  2. The association fights for the rights of the members, their employees and their contractors. A by-product of that effort is that they are fighting for the non-contributing companies too.  How fair does that sound?  If these companies are not fair to their industry association will they be fair to you?
  3. The members are kept abreast of the issues of the day. As an example, each month, the ACSESS Government Relations Report lists its current initiatives. The NACCB lobbying efforts are also continually focused on a couple of big issues.
  4. How do you know your company understands the rules applicable in the staffing industry if they aren’t involved in the associations that help to define it?  Anyone can “hang out a shingle” and sound credible, but the rules around deductions for temp versus sole-proprietor, or for independent contractors, can get interesting and change quickly.  Associations provide advice on these complex issues and support to their members on how these changes affect their business. The end result is added protection for you.
  5. Industry associations hold their members to a code of conduct and not all companies do! A code of conduct ensures that members remain ethical not only today while you’re working together, but well into the future.
  6. Industry associations will arbitrate and provide expert advice when issues arise.  It is easier if the companies involved are dealing with members.
  7. Industry associations provide ongoing guidance and education to ensure that their members are up-to-date on legislative requirements further ensuring the protection of those that work with them.

Here in Canada there are a couple of primary industry associations that represent the staffing industry:

  1. Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services NACCB and ACSESS logos(ACSESS) is the largest, representing the industry in general.
  2. National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses (NACCB) is probably the next largest with a mandate of supporting those staffing companies in the IT space specifically.

There are also local associations.  For example, CabiNet is a local Ottawa-based organization focused primarily on companies supplying contract services to the Federal Government.

How do you know if they are a member of an industry association? Ask them! If they belong to one of the larger organizations mentioned above, visit the association website.  All the members are listed.