The Social Insurance Number Code of Practice
Section 3 - Employers' responsibilities
Employers must be informed of each new employee's SIN within three (3) days after the day on which their employment begins, and maintain a record of the SIN of the employee so they can provide him or her with Records of Employment and various year-end reporting slips such as the T4 for income tax purposes. Employers also use SINs to record and forward employee payroll deductions for income tax, the Employment Insurance (EI) program, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Québec Pension Plan (QPP), and Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).
3.1 Key responsibilities of employersFootnote 1
Employers play a vital role in protecting the SIN from misuse, fraud, and theft. Four key responsibilities for employers are:
1. Employers are required by law to request each new employee's SIN within three (3) days after the day on which their employment begins, and maintain a record of the SIN of the employee.
- Ensure employees are correctly identified by requesting pieces of identification before finalizing their employment documents.
- Every person working in Canada must have a SIN. This number is used to administer government benefits under the Income Tax Act, the Canada Pension Plan and the Employment Insurance Act. If a new employee does not have a SIN, but is eligible to work in Canada, the employer should tell the employee to apply for a SIN at one of our Service Canada Centres—it’s fast, simple and secure. If the employee's application and identity documents are in order, he or she will receive a SIN in one visit.
- Employers can contact Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration Office at 1-800-206-7218 and select option “3” or 1-506-548-7961 if outside of Canada (long distance charges apply) to confirm the SIN of a current or former employee, and ensure that a new employee's SIN is correct. Employers will be required to provide their business number (issued by the Canada Revenue Agency), as well as appropriate identification regarding the company and the SIN holder.
2. Employers must ensure that employees with a SIN beginning with the number "9" are authorized to work in Canada and have a valid immigration document.
- SINs beginning with the number "9" are issued to temporary foreign workers who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents.
- These SINs have a period of validity corresponding to the date the foreign worker is authorized to work in Canada, which has been granted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
- If the immigration document is expired, the employer must ask the employee to contact CIC to obtain a valid document before hiring the employee. The employer must also inform the employee to apply with the new immigration document to Service Canada for the SIN record to be updated with the new expiry date.
- All terms and conditions on the work permit, including authorized dates and locations of work, must be verified for the employer to hire this person.
For more information about hiring temporary foreign workers, visit the CIC website or call 1-888-242-2100.
3. Employers must protect their employees' personal information, especially Social Insurance Numbers, from theft and misuse.
- Employees' personal information should be stored and disposed of safely and securely. Only authorized persons should be allowed to see this information.
- Employers should follow the Employers Dos and Don'ts: Requesting, Collecting, Using and Storing the SIN, in Annex 6.
- If employees' SINs are stolen or inappropriately used or disclosed, an employer must take immediate steps to minimize the potential damage. See Annex 4, SIN at Risk: Action Plan for Organizations, for more information.
4. Employers must inform Service Canada if they suspect a Social Insurance Number is being misused.
- Employers play a leading role in detecting and preventing SIN-related fraud because illegal employment and/or income tax evasion are two of the main motives for SIN fraud.
- It is an offence under the Income Tax Act for an employer to knowingly employ someone who is using a fraudulent SIN.
- An employer who suspects that a SIN is being used fraudulently must immediately report the situation to Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration Office at 1-800-206-7218 and select option “3” or 1-506-548-7961 if outside of Canada (long distance charges apply).
3.2 Questions and answers about the SIN and employers
1. How can employers verify the SIN of a new employee if they suspect he or she may not be who he or she claims to be?
Employers can contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218 and select option “3” to verify the SIN of any present or former employees. They will be required to provide their business number (issued by the Canada Revenue Agency) as well as appropriate identification about the company and the SIN holder.
2. Can payroll service providers call Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration Office to verify the SINs of their employees?
Only employers are permitted to verify an employee's SIN from the Social Insurance Registration Office. Since payroll service providers are not the person's employer, they cannot verify SINs with the Office. However, it is understood that in order to fulfill their roles and responsibilities to their client or to the employer, the payroll service providers must receive the employees' SINs. This requirement should be included in a contractual agreement and these agencies must adhere to the Code.
3. What are temporary Social Insurance Numbers?
Temporary SINs begin with the number “9” and have a period of validity corresponding to the date the foreign worker is authorized to work in Canada, which has been granted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The SIN is issued for employment purposes to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents (for example, temporary workers), but who are legally entitled to work in Canada.
4. Do all temporary Social Insurance Numbers expire?
Yes. All temporary SIN beginning with the number “9” must have a period of validity which corresponds to the date the foreign worker is authorized to work in Canada.
5. What should an employer do if an individual produces an immigration document that is expired?
If the immigration document is expired, the employer must ask the employee to contact CIC to obtain a valid document before hiring the employee. The employer must also inform the employee to apply with the new immigration document to Service Canada for the SIN record to be updated with the new expiry date.
6. What is implied status?
If a temporary resident applies for renewal of their work or study permit and their permit expires before a decision is made, paragraph 186(u) and section 189 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provides them the right to continue working or studying under the same conditions, pending a determination of their application for renewal, as long as they remain in Canada. This is referred as “implied status”. The temporary foreign worker will have implied status until a decision is rendered by CIC.
As soon as a decision has been rendered by CIC authorizing the employee to continue to work in Canada, the employer must verify the new immigration document and the expiry date. The employer must also inform the employee to apply with his or her new immigration document to Service Canada for the SIN record to be updated with the new expiry date.
For more information regarding “implied status”, visit the CIC website or call the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100.
7. Can the SIN Confirmation letter printed at a Service Canada Centre be provided to an employer as proof of an employee's SIN?
Yes, the SIN Confirmation letter can be provided by an employee.
8. Many people use a nickname, middle name or another name. As an employer, how should I record the name of the employee?
The employer must ensure that their employees are correctly identified by requesting pieces of identification before finalizing their employment documents.
Employers should record their employee's legal name. Employers may wish to remind employees that their SIN record should reflect their current legal name. By law, when the name of a person to whom a SIN has been assigned changes (because of marriage or other circumstances), the person must apply to update their SIN record under the new name within 60 days.
9. How long are employers required to keep an employee's SIN?
Under the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Income Tax Act, employers who have to withhold or deduct CPP contributions, EI premiums and taxes, are required to keep their records for at least six years from the end of the last year the person was employed.
10. What can employers do if they suspect an employee has a fraudulent SIN?
Every year, stolen, lost, borrowed and fabricated SIN cards are used to defraud individuals, businesses and governments.
If an employer suspects that a SIN is being used fraudulently, contact Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration Office at 1-800-206-7218 and select option “3” to verify the SIN used by an employee. To do this, employers are required to provide Service Canada with their business number (issued by the Canada Revenue Agency) along with appropriate identification for the company and the SIN holder.
11. Can employers use the SIN as an employee identifier?
The SIN should not be used as an employee identifier. Employers are strongly discouraged from doing this because of the importance of the SIN and the serious problems that could arise if the employee's personal information is placed at risk. Use another system of identification to protect your employees' privacy and maintain the integrity of the SIN.
3.3 Service Canada's commitment to employers
Identity fraud, including stolen, lost and borrowed SINs, can lead to increased costs for individuals, businesses and governments. It is particularly important to safeguard the SIN since anyone legally entitled to work in Canada has a SIN, which is the key identifier used to obtain many government services and benefits. Employers can help prevent SIN fraud by keeping unauthorized persons from seeing SIN files, and reporting suspected misuse. If you suspect that a SIN is being misused, call 1-800-206-7218 and select option “3”, to confirm the identity of the SIN holder and/or report suspicious use of a SIN.
All SIN holders share, with Service Canada, the responsibility of protecting their SIN from inappropriate use, fraud and theft. Everyone should do their part to ensure their personal information in the Social Insurance Register (the Register) is accurate and complete. Service Canada and its partner departments take this responsibility very seriously and have many ways of safeguarding SINs and the accuracy of the Register.
To fulfill this responsibility to employers, Service Canada is committed to:
- confirming and/or providing the SIN of an employer's employees for income tax or payroll purposes
- offering guidance, information and tools to help employers fulfill their SIN responsibilities
- providing assistance to employers when SIN information in their care has been put at risk
- working with employers to detect, report and investigate suspected misuse of a SIN.
For a full description of Service Canada's roles and responsibilities related to the SIN, refer to Section 5, Service Canada and its Partners' Responsibilities.
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