For the uninitiated, the world of law may seem a tangly place. And when you’re at the helm of an arts organization, you likely have enough on your plate without having to worry about contractual terms and requirements, hiring and firing, and a myriad of matters. But these things are just as important as the nuts and bolts of your organization or event, and not being up to speed can land you in some sticky situations.
Matthew Moulton and Melissa Royle, associate lawyers with the firm Benson Buffett, will walk participants through the fundamentals during their upcoming workshop at St. John’s City Hall. Moulton and Royle recently chatted with Business & Arts NL about employment law in an arts context.
Business & Arts NL: Do you feel that members of the arts community have a good grasp of the fundamentals of employment law and labour standards, or is this an area in which more education is needed?
Matthew Moulton & Melissa Royle: Many members of the arts community understand the issues they deal with regularly, but would benefit from a broader understanding of the legal duties and obligations governing employment relations in the arts. Education can help correct misconceptions, identify new considerations, and prevent common issues from escalating or repeating. We always recommend, however, that people consult a lawyer for advice on a specific context.
Business & Arts NL: What are some of the major differences between employees and independent contractors that arts organizations should keep in mind when hiring?
MM & MR: Whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor is an important consideration for a number of reasons. First, it may have tax implications for the person whose services are being engaged.
The distinction may also have an impact on the obligations owed by the employer to the person whose services are being engaged. For instance, if someone is an employee (versus an independent contractor) the employer may have to deduct various items from employee’s pay, including CPP and Income Tax deductions, as well as Workers Compensation amounts. Moreover, if someone is considered an employee, the employer owes them various obligations on the termination of the contract, which may not be the case for independent contractors.
The distinction is sometimes a tenuous one, but has legal implications that employers should be aware of. This is one of the topics we will be covering in-depth in our seminar.
Business & Arts NL: Considering again employment law and labour standards, are there particular things that artists/arts groups need to keep in mind, versus those who work in non-arts related areas?
MM & MR: Given that many artists and arts organization do not simply operate on the standard 9-5 workday, consideration of employment standards regarding hours of work, pay, and leave may be relevant. Furthermore, intellectual property and moral rights are uniquely applicable to artists and arts groups, including ownership, attribution and integrity of the works. Knowing where you stand before agreeing to an employment or independent contractor relationship can help avoid unexpected legal, monetary, or creative disputes.
Business & Arts NL: For those who may not be able to attend your workshop but want to brush up on their knowledge in this area, are there any good resources you can recommend?
MM & MR: Remember – a Google search is never a substitute for legal advice! That said, there are lots of good texts out there on these subjects, so a search of the Law Society’s library is always recommended. Also, law firms across the country often publish articles and information notes on employment law issues, but it should be kept in mind that (a) these are not legal advice and (b) they may not be relevant if the firm is located in another province.
Our firm, Benson Buffett, also publishes what we call eCaseNotes, many of which are employment law related. See: http://bensonbuffett.com/publications.php
Workshop – Employment Law for Arts Organizations and Festivals
Date: Monday, October 24 from 1pm-4pm
Location: St. John’s City Hall, Foran-Greene Room
Price: Free for Business & Arts NL members/$30 non-members. Registration is required.
For more information on Matthew and Melissa’s workshop, click here.
*Note: This session will be immediately followed by Navigating Corporate Sponsorships with Alex Collins (Statoil) and Aimee Igloliorte (an Employee and Corporate Social Responsibility Communications Advisor working in oil and gas) from 4pm-5pm in the same location. Navigating Corporate Sponsorships is a free session and advance registration is not required. For more information on this session, click here.