Circus and fair

Introduction

This document provides information on what the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) looks at when determining whether the employment of a person who performs services at, or in connection with, a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition or other like/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.

Employer responsibilities

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.

Explanations

For the purpose of this document, the expression employment in connection with a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other like/similar activity means that the services performed are related to, connected to, and having to do with the event.

For the purpose of this document, the expressions other like activity and 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.

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 like/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 like 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
Gus is hired to build a stage for a music festival on the festival grounds. The information in this document would apply to his employment for both CPP and EI purposes because it would be considered to be "in connection with" and "at" the festival.

Example 2
Grace is hired to sell circus souvenirs at a special booth put up at a train station or airport. The information in this document 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 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 and in connection with a circus, fair, parade, carnival, exposition, exhibition, or other like/similar activity is excepted from pensionable and excluded from 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 excepted from CPP and excluded from EI.

In cases where the employment is excepted, 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 in T4001, Employers' Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances.

Regularly employed

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"; and/or
  • 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 Rescue Operations and/or 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 excepted from pensionable and excluded from insurable employment.

Example - excepted and excluded employment
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 the excepted employment's earnings by submitting a CPT20, Election to Pay Canada Pension Plan Contributions.

Example - pensionable and insurable employment
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 for it to be excepted from pensionable or excluded from insurable employment. 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
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 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
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.

Requesting 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 obtain a ruling for Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance purposes.

For more information

To get more information, call 1-800-959-5525 .

Legislative references

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