Circus and fair
This article provides information on what the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) looks at when determining whether the employment of a person who performs services at the location or in connection with a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition or other similar activity is pensionable or insurable, or both, under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Employment Insurance Act (EIA).
This information relates to persons who perform services on a short-term basis who are usually administrative, technical, or support staff and who are not entertainers.
An entertainer is a professional stage performer or performing artist who uses their creative talent and imagination for form or effect. Examples include illusionists, magicians, acrobats, jugglers, comedians, contortionists, dancers, clowns, musicians, singers, stilt-walkers, and trapeze artists.
All employers are required by law to deduct CPP contributions and employment insurance (EI) premiums from most amounts they pay to their employees. Employers must remit these amounts to the CRA along with their share of CPP contributions and EI premiums. More information on employer responsibilities and obligations can be found through our Payroll menu page.
For the purpose of this article, the expression employment in connection with a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other similar activity means that the services performed are related to, connected to, and having to do with the event.
For the purpose of this article, the expressions other similar activity include pet and horse shows, beauty pageants, flower or garden shows, and music or theatre festivals.
Employee or self-employed worker?
To determine if a person is an employee or a self-employed worker, the CRA looks at the factual working relationship between the worker and the payer. For general information, see Guide RC4110, Employee or Self-employed?
If the worker is self-employed, the employment is neither pensionable nor insurable. Therefore, the remainder of this article will not apply to the employment in question. However, all self-employed workers pay CPP contributions at the time they file their income tax return and may opt into the EI program for self-employed individuals. Please see Responsibilities, benefits and entitlements for employees and self-employed workers for more information.
If, on the other hand, the worker is an employee, continue reading to determine whether the employment is pensionable or insurable, or both.
Employment at the location and/or in connection with a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other similar activity
For CPP purposes, the employment must be in Canada and at the location of the circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other similar activity.
For EI purposes, employment must be in Canada and in connection with the circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other similar activity. However, it does not have to be at the location of the event.
Example 1 – employment at the location and in connection with
Gus is hired to build a stage for a music festival on the festival grounds. The information in this article would apply to his employment for both CPP and EI purposes because it would be considered to be at the location of the festival and in connection with it.
Example 2 – employment in connection with but not at the location
Grace is hired to sell circus souvenirs at a special booth put up at a train station or airport. The information in this article would apply to her employment for EI purposes but not for CPP because it would be considered to be in connection with but not at the location of the circus.
Pensionable and insurable employment?
Generally, an employee working in this industry is engaged in pensionable or insurable employment, or both, in accordance with the CPP and EIA.
However, the CPP and EI Regulations provide that employment of an employee who performs services at the location and/or in connection with a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other similar activity is not pensionable and not insurable employment if the employee:
- is not regularly employed by their employer; and
- is employed for less than seven days in a calendar year.
If both conditions are met and the employee is not an entertainer, the employment is not pensionable under the CPP and not insurable under the EI.
In cases where the employment is not pensionable, if conditions are met, the employee can elect to pay CPP contributions on these earnings by completing Form CPT20, Election to pay Canada Pension Plan Contributions.
You can find more information on types of employment not subject to CPP contributions or EI premiums or both in T4001, Employers' Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances.
To determine whether or not the employee is regularly employed, the following factors should be considered:
- fixed pattern rather than a fixed period of employment;
- the regularity of the work schedule;
- the employment need not be long-term;
- the employment can be only temporary so long as it is "regular";
- the work schedule does not necessarily have to be determined in advance or remain fixed in time; however, it must be possible to identify some consistency in the frequency and the sequence of units of work which the employee is called on to provide.
Examples of regularly employed and not regularly employed can be found in the article on Rescue operations / Abating a disaster.
If the employee is regularly employed, the first condition is not met and the employment is pensionable and insurable.
Employed for less than seven days in the year?
If the employee, who is not an entertainer and is not regularly employed, works for less than seven days in a calendar year, the employment is not pensionable and is not insurable.
Example 1 – employment is not pensionable and not insurable
Paul was hired to sell souvenirs at the circus. He worked on opening night, as well as at the third and fourth performances. It was determined that Paul was not regularly employed because he worked occasionally or as required to replace workers who were not available and his work schedule was not regular. Therefore, his employment is not pensionable and not insurable because both conditions are met. Paul may elect to pay CPP contributions on his employment's earnings by completing a CPT20 form.
Example 2 – employment is pensionable and insurable
Grace was hired as a box office agent/ticket seller on the grounds of the local fall fair. She worked on a casual/intermittent basis for the entire two weeks that the fair was open to the public. Grace was not regularly employed, but she was employed for more than seven days in the year. The employment must meet both of the conditions of the CPP and EI legislation in order to be not pensionable or not insurable. Therefore, her employment for the two weeks is pensionable and insurable.
Non-regular employment that becomes regular
When an employee is not initially in regularly employed status, and the nature of the employment changes such that the employee is later considered to be in regularly employed status, the employment is pensionable and insurable beginning on the day that the employment becomes regular.
Example of a non-regular employment that becomes regular
Gus was hired on September 1 as an usher for a local music festival. He worked for four days on a trial basis. The employer required someone to be available to report for work on short notice when extra ushers were needed; Gus agreed to be available and carry a pager for the next four days. Since there was no continuity, fixed pattern, or regularity in his work schedule, he was not regularly employed. At the end of the period, the employer told Gus that his work performance was more than acceptable and he offered Gus regular shifts beginning September 6. Gus continued to work for the employer for the remainder of the festival. This employment will have to be split into two periods:
- Period 1: Gus' employment from September 1 to 4 is not pensionable and not insurable; and
- Period 2: Gus' employment beginning on September 6 is pensionable and insurable because this is the date the employment became regular.
Employed in different periods by the same employer
When an employee works in non-regular employment for seven or more days in a calendar year for the same employer, the employment is pensionable and insurable from the first day worked during that calendar year.
This is true even if the seven days are worked in different employment periods and/or in more than one employment with the same employer. Therefore, employment can begin as not pensionable and not insurable because both of the above conditions are met, and then once the number of days worked for the same employer equals seven or more, the employment becomes pensionable and insurable from the first day worked during that calendar year.
Example of being employed in different periods by the same employer
Evelyn worked as a midway ride operator in July for two days. In September, she worked for the same employer for four days as a parking attendant, and again in November for two days as security attendant. For each of these employments, Evelyn was called in on short notice when extra staff was needed. Since there was no continuity, fixed pattern, or regularity of her work schedule, she was not regularly employed. However, Evelyn worked for seven days or more in the calendar year for the same employer in one or more employments. Therefore, her employment in July, September, and November (a total of eight days) is pensionable and insurable.
How to request a ruling
If a worker or payer is not sure of the worker's employment status, either party can request a ruling to have the status determined. More information on the ruling process is available in How to get a CPP/EI ruling.
For information on the possible implications of a CPP/EI ruling, go to Have you received a CPP/EI ruling?
For more information
To get more information, call the CRA’s business enquiries line at 1-800-959-5525.
- Paragraphs 6(1)(a), 6(2)(k) and 7(2)(f) of the Canada Pension Plan
- Subsections 28(1), 28(3) and 28(4) of the Canada Pension Plan Regulations
- Subparagraphs 28(2)(b)(i) and 28(2)(b)(ii) of the Canada Pension Plan Regulations
- Paragraphs 29(a) to (f) of the Canada Pension Plan Regulations
- Paragraphs 5(1)(a), 5(2)(h) and 5(6)(e) of the Employment Insurance Act
- Subparagraphs 8(1)(a)(i) and 8(1)(a)(ii) of the Employment Insurance Regulations
- Subsections 8(2) and 8(3) of the Employment Insurance Regulations
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