A recent BC Supreme Court decision confirms that contractors who
are in an economically dependent relationship are entitled to
reasonable notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice.
Khan v. All-Can Express Ltd., 2014 BCSC 1429 involved a
company in the business of transporting freight and parcels known
as Ace Courier. The majority of courier drivers, including Mr.
Khan, own or lease their own trucks. Ace Courier "hires"
the drivers to service customers on a particular route.
The typical "owner/operator" driver has a long-term,
exclusive contractual relationship with Ace Courier. He is expected
to be loyal to Ace and follow Ace's policies. He wears an Ace
uniform and displays the Ace logo on his truck. On the other hand,
the driver signs an agreement acknowledging his status as an
independent contractor. He is responsible for his truck and all
related expenses. He must hire a replacement driver when he was not
available. He does not participate in employee benefits or receive
vacation pay. The driver also files his income taxes as a
One such owner/operate driver, Mr. Khan, was terminated without
just cause after 5 years of service. Based on the above factors,
the Court concluded that Mr. Khan was a "dependent
contractor". He was awarded 4 months' notice of
This case demonstrates that the common law has evolved into a
more nuanced state, where service arrangements, depending upon
their particular features, can fall at different points along a
continuum, ranging from pure employer-employee situations to
classic independent contractor relationships. The fact that an
agreement stipulates that the service provider is an independent
contractor is not determinative, and does not mean that he can be
terminated without just cause or reasonable notice.
This case reminds employers to include a termination clause in
all service agreements and to give both employees and contractors a
reasonable opportunity to obtain legal advice prior to entering
into any such agreement.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).