Know Your Temporary Labor Rules

Casual Labour Rules
Paying Employees From The Cash Drawer

by L. Kenway BComm CPB

What You'll Find In This Chat

Let's chat about good bookkeeping practices.

✔ casual labour & payroll deductions ... Canada and U.S.
✔ casual labor & household help
✔ rules for hiring relatives
✔ recording temporary wages in roofing industry
✔ seasonal workers paid with no deductions
✔ how to pay employees with cash ... step-by-step instructions


Determining how to record casual labour seems to be a grey area for a lot of small business owners and is often challenging. I've consolidated all the forum postings on this topic which includes how to properly pay employees with cash.

Let's begin with the most basic question asked in the forum ... 


Can you pay employees as casual labour for only a few days work without payroll deductions?


In Canada, casual labour no longer applies as a category when doing payroll except if it relates to "a purpose OTHER than your usual trade or business". If this definition does NOT apply, EI and CPP must be withheld.

You can find more information in CRA's publication Employeer's Guide - Payroll Deductions and Remittances. Search the document for the term "casual employment".


In the U.S., EDD California provided an excellent explanation on the status of casual or day laborers. As this article is from California, you will need to check your state for casual labour laws. Here is EDD's explanation:

"“Casual labor” and “day labor” are common terms used to describe workers performing a variety of services, usually on a temporary or part-time basis. Many businesses hire these types of workers and mistakenly believe that they are not employees simply because of their limited length of service or part-time hours. Even though these workers may be hired for 

only an hour, day, or week, they are typically employees.  

Some examples of the types of workers referred to as casual laborers include:

  • Part-time help
  • Day laborers
  • Students
  • Outside laborers
  • Temporary help
  • Substitutes
  • Workers in training
  • Employees hired on a trial basis
  • Workers paid less than $600 a year"


The link above also deals with the criteria for excluding casual labour from employment. As in Canada, one of the criteria is the service cannot be in the course of your trade or business.

For more information on IRS's position on casual labor, see Publication 15 (Circular E) Employer's Tax Guide. Go the index of the publication and look up part-time workers.


Meaning of Casual Labour

Wages for maids and nannies

A site visitor with 15 years experience with CRA in the area of payroll deductions, payroll audit, CPP/EI appeals responded to this questions in more detail:

Maybe you could discuss, what casual, not for the employer's trade or business means actually means.

A lot of persons hiring domestic workers, nannies, babysitters, maids, caregivers, make mistakes when they neglect to make deductions from pay when they need to.

For example, when you hire a caregiver, or babysitter (not for your trade or business) in a regular and continuous employment, then you have to deduct CPP, EI, and tax. It is not casual, and therefore not an exception. 

However, if you hire a babysitter, (for example) and (not for your trade or business) and that work is not regular (casual), then you do NOT deduct CPP or EI, as this work IS casual. And because it IS casual, and not for your trade or business, then this employment is an exception for CPP and EI purposes. 

Of course, when we discuss the hiring of a maid, etc, then the whole concept does not apply if there is no employee-employer relationship.


Forum posting date: February 20, 2012


Non-arm's length casual labour and income splitting with family members

Income splitting with family members

Sharon from Calgary, BC

I have a client that hired a young family member to help out in his store periodically for an hour here or there. My client will pay this employee cash from the cash register drawer as it is usually less than $25.00 a pay period.

Unfortunately the cash deposits do not match up to the bank statement and there are no note(s) attached to the cash out report(s) indicating this amount was cash paid out. The client has this employee in the payroll register records the cash transaction as follows: Dr Bank. Cr Wages.

I have to go back and re-post these transactions as I cannot reconcile the bank statements. My question is where would I post this transaction? Should I create a Cash Drawer Asset Account to CR these cash payments to or should I leave it as is in bank?


Forum posting date: July, 2014


If this were me, I'd go find the day the cash wages were paid, then look for the bank deposit around that date that was shorted. In QuickBooks, I'd show the correct bank deposit (i.e. increase it by the amount of the cash wages) and show the cash wages taken at the bottom of the deposit screen. The net deposit should still match the bank statement deposit, so it shouldn't affect your bank reconciliation.

As explained earlier, casual wages require payroll deductions IF they are related to your business trade. Scott Taylor has a great article on the rules for hiring relatives and of course paying wages in cash still requires paperwork.

While income splitting with family members is acceptable, if the criteria isn't met (see "rules" link above), I'd likely book these wages as an owner's draw (sole proprietorship) / shareholder loan (incorporated) even though it means losing a tax deduction. You are still teaching your kids about working for their money.

You could create the Cash Account as a current asset if you want. Nothing wrong with that. Just remember you will have to "balance" the cash account at the end of the year so it's really just delaying your problem.


A roofer in Saskatchewan asks about recording the payment to temporary workers in his roofing business.

How to record wages for temporary workers

Q: I'm roofer in Saskatchewan who pays for casual labour as I need it; cash only no deductions. How do I record it in Simply Accounting?

A: As explained above, if the temporary workers relate to your trade or business, then you must withhold CPP and EI (FICA and FUTA in the U.S.) and issue T4s (W2s in the U.S.) at the end of each year.

I don't use Simply Accounting, so I can't help you out. However, I did write a chat about how to pay employees in cash using QuickBooks. Maybe you can modify the instructions for Simply Accounting. Just follow the link.

A: S.M. Wells also weighed in ...

If your business is roofing, and you are hiring workers to strip the roof, throw the materials into a bin or clean up after the work, they are not "casual" but are performing "income generating tasks" just the same as the guys nailing on the shingles or laying the metal valleys. 

As infrequent as the work is, since they are hired "for your business" then they must have tax, CPP and EI deducted.

Now, the admin doing filing in the office isn't performing "income generating tasks", so as long as the work is "casual" then the admin can be paid as casual.


Forum posting date: October 11, 2012



A seasonal worker, asks why their employer will not be taking any deductions off their pay cheque. 

Catering wages

Q: I am going to be working for the summer helping a catering company and I was told that I would be paid by a company cheque after each weekend wedding and there would be no deductions taken off...is this legal?

A: Huh ... that would make me nervous if I was in your position. As the catering is a business for trade, operates on a regular basis AND IF they are hiring you as an employee, then deductions are mandatory.

Why don't you ask your employer if they will be issuing you a T4 slip (W2 in the U.S.) at year-end. If they say yes, then deductions are mandatory. If they say no, ask them if you are being hired as independent contractor or an employee?

If you are being hired as an independent contractor, no deductions are okay ... except you really should be issuing them an invoice that they pay. Read more about independent contractors here.


Forum posting date: April 13, 2014



LET'S CHAT ABOUT ...

How To Pay Employees With Cash

How to pay employees with cash

Jennifer Thieme, ezine author has an excellent article on How to Pay Employees with Cash. Just Bing/Google it to find the article.

Her method uses QuickBooks®. The bonus to you? Her method protects your business while accommodating the employee.

A short recap

  • There must be a paper trail to prove payment.
  • A pay stub detailing how the pay cheque was calculated should still be issued.
  • There must be evidence that the employee received their pay for the period.

Why is this necessary? It protects your business in the event of an employee dispute or a payroll audit.

I would handle the payroll run a bit differently though than the article suggests.

My choice would be to run these payroll cheques through a QuickBooks bank account type called "Payroll - Cash". This account would act as a clearing account. After each payroll disbursement, the account balance should be zero. Here's how it would work.

Step One - Do a separate payroll run for cash. Enter your payroll data as usual applying the proper payroll tax rates. This will also create pay stubs for each employee. Print out your summary payroll report.

Step Two - In your accounting software package, release the pay "cheques" issued in the employee's name. The memo field could mention that it was paid in cash. Each "cheque" would be coded to the Payroll-Cash account. Print out the pay stub for each employee.

Step Three - On or about payday, write a cheque from your regular bank account issued in your name for the exact amount of the cash payroll run (calculated in step one), ensuring the memo area of the cheque is completed and stating the payroll period. The cheque would be coded to the Payroll-Cash account. Attach the payroll report as backup.

Check Point on Account Balance - The payroll "cheques" offset the cash withdrawal from your bank. Your clearing account should now be zero if you did everything correctly.

Step Four- Prepare a pay envelope that contains each employee's cash payment AND their pay stub (which you prepared in step two).

Step Five - When you give the employee their pay envelope, have them sign for the pay either in a log (like at the post office when you pickup a registered letter/parcel) or on your copy of the pay stub. Have the employee open the envelope in front of you and count his/her pay.

Payroll tax rates

Check Point on Payroll Tax Rates - I would like to emphasize that your payroll tax rates are the same as any employee paid by cheque or direct deposit. You would include and pay your payroll taxes on these cash payments in with your normal payroll source deduction remittance on form PD7A (in Canada) or forms 940 and 941 (in the U.S.) . 

Make sure you learn CRA's and IRS's rules on hiring temporary / casual labor so you don't get into trouble if/when audited.



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