The Labour Law in Nova Scotia is regulated mainly by the Labour Standards Code, 1989. The Labour Standards Code governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, employment relationships. The other acts that govern employment relationships are Remembrance Act, Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act, Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act, etc.
Hours & Pay Regulations
The Government authority can prescribe the number of hours per day or week that an employer may require an employee to work at any establishment. Labour Standards Code § 61.
Every employer shall keep and maintain employees’ records at the employer’s principal place of business for at least 36 months. Labour Standards Code § 15.
An employee who works for more than 48 hours a week is entitled to 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for each additional hour worked in that week. Some groups of employees have special rules to deal with overtime, called wage orders. Labour Standards Code § 40(4).
An employer shall provide an employee whose work shift is longer than 5 hours with a break for rest and eating for a duration of at least 30 minutes. If the work shift lasts for more than 10 hours, the employees will be eligible for at least an additional 30 minutes of total break for every 5 consecutive hours of work. Labour Standards Code § 66B.
An employer shall provide employees a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours every 7 days. Labour Standards Code § 66.
Employees are entitled to 6 paid holidays in Nova Scotia:
- Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
- Nova Scotia Heritage Day (3rd Monday in February)
- Good Friday
- July 1: Canada Day
- Labour Day (1st Monday in September)
- Dec. 25: Christmas Day
An employee is eligible to receive a holiday with pay, if:
- He has received or is entitled to receive pay for at least 15 days during the 30 calendar days immediately before the public holiday:
- He has worked on his scheduled working day immediately before and after the holiday,
Public holiday on a Non-Working Day
If a public holiday falls on a non-working day, the employer shall grant the employee with a paid holiday either on-
- The working day immediately after the public holiday;
- The day immediately after the vacation of the employee or grant the employee another day agreed upon by the employee and the employer.
An employee may agree with the employer via an agreement to designate another day as a holiday with pay, in lieu of a public holiday which shall be considered as the public holiday for such employees.
Payment for Work on Public Holidays
An employee who works on a public shall be paid in addition to the regular wages that an employee would have received for that day and an amount equal to at least 1.5 times his regular rate of wages for the time worked by him on that day.
An employee who is employed in continuous employment shall be paid in addition to his regular wages an amount equal to at least 1.5 times his regular rate of wages for the time worked by him on that day, or grant a holiday immediately after the annual vacation of the employee or any other day as a holiday with regular pay as may be agreed between the employee and the employer.
An employee who works on the Remembrance Day is entitled to receive another holiday with pay, which may be provided immediately after the holiday or annual vacation of the employee, or any other day as agreed between the employer and the employee.
There are also other rules regulating different industries such as Retail, which have different days in a year designated as holidays, over and above the main public holidays. Labour Standards Code § 37 – 42.
An employee who has been in continuous employment for a period of at least 12 months with an employer is eligible for an unbroken vacation of at least 2 weeks, and where an employee has been in continuous employment for more than 8 years with the same employer, is entitled to unbroken vacation of at least 3 weeks.
An employer may in agreement with an employee agree for 2 or more vacation periods, which shall not exceed the total limit of the vacation allowed and should include at least 1 week of the unbroken period.
Payment for Annual Vacation
- An employee will receive 4% of the employee’s wages for the 12-month period, or
- An employee will receive 6% of the employee’s wages for the 12-month period if the period of employment is equal to or more than 8 years with an employer.
Time of Payment
The employer must inform the date when the vacation is to begin at least 1 week in advance and the employee should be paid 1 day before the vacation begins.
Waiver of entitlement to Vacation Pay
An employer who works for an employer for less than 90 percent of the regular working hours during a continuous 12-month period can waive the entitlement to the vacation leave and can collect the vacation pay.
Vacation pay on termination
When an employee is not entitled to vacation and his employment terminates with the employer, in such case, the employer shall pay an amount equal to 4 percent or where the employer has been in the employment for a period of more than 8 years, an amount equal to 6 percent, of the wages of the employee during the time he was employed. Labour Standards Code § 32 – 35.
As of April 1, 2021, the minimum wage rate employers must pay employees is $12.95 per hour.
The minimum wage given above is subject to change and may not be up to date. Kindly access the link to get current rates.
An employee is entitled to a maximum of 3 days of unpaid leave per year. Labour Standards Code § 60G.
A pregnant employee is entitled to unpaid leave for a duration of 16 weeks preceding the expected date of delivery. Pregnancy leave ends on such date not sooner than the date of delivery, and not later than sixteen weeks after the pregnancy leave began. Labour Standards Code § 59 and 59B.
An employee who becomes the natural parent or adopts a child or children is entitled to unpaid leave for a duration of 77 weeks. In case, a woman employee takes parental leave after the pregnancy leave, she will be entitled to unpaid leave for a duration of 61 weeks. This leave should be taken soon after the pregnancy leave before joining back to work.
If a woman employee does not take pregnancy leave, she becomes entitled to parental leave for a duration of 77 weeks which shall start from the date of childbirth/adoption and shall end not later than 18 months from the date of the birth/adoption of the child.
The maximum combined pregnancy leaves and parental leave to which a woman employee is entitled to is 77 weeks. In case, where the parental leave has begun and the child is hospitalized for a period exceeding 1 week, in that case, the employee is entitled to return to work and can use the unused portion of the parental leave, after the child is discharged from the hospital. The employee is entitled to only 1 week of such deferred parental leave. Labour Standards Code § 59B – 59E.
An employee is entitled to 37 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to a child if the certified medical practitioner certifies the same. The leave shall end on the last day of the week in which any of the following occurs:
- The child dies;
- Number of weeks specified in the medical certificate has been taken;
- A 37-week period has been exhausted.
The leave can only be taken in periods of not less than 1 week’s duration and shall be taken within the 52 weeks period that begins on the first day of the week in which the child became critically ill. Labour Standards Code § 60K – 60Q.
An employee is entitled to unpaid leave up to 5 consecutive calendar days on the death of the person in a close family relationship.
Labour Standards Code § 60A.
An employee is entitled to leave for a duration as may be required to perform jury duty or attend as a witness at a place other than the place of employment of the employee. Labour Standards Code § 60C.
An employee who has been in the continuous employment with an employer for at least 3 months is entitled to 28 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to a person with whom the employee has a close family relationship if a person with whom the employee has a close family relationship has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.
The leave may only be taken in a period of at least a one-week duration. Labour Standards Code § 60E – 60EA.
An employee who is a member of the Reserves and has been in the continuous employment for at least 3 months or a shorter period with an employer, and is required for the purpose of services in the Canadian forces, is entitled to unpaid leave for not more than a period of 24 months in any 60 month period. Labour Standards Code § 60H – 60HA.
Employees are entitled to unpaid leave for a duration of the period in which they cannot perform their duties, because of the following reasons:
- A government agency has declared an emergency; or
- A medical officer of health has issued a directive or order telling an employee to stay off work; or
- The employee needs to care for a family member (or a person like family) who is affected by one of the emergency situations noted above.
Labour Standards Code § 60I.
An employee is eligible for an unpaid leave of 1 day or less at the option of the employee for the purpose of attending the citizenship ceremony and receiving the employee’s certificate of citizenship. Labour Standards Code § 60J.
An employee who has been in continuous employment for a period of at least 3 months with an employer is entitled to unpaid leave for a duration of 16 weeks to provide care or support to the critically ill adult. The leave shall end on the last day of the week in which any of the following occurs–
- The adult dies;
- Number of weeks specified in the medical certificate has been taken;
- A 16-week period has been exhausted.
The leave can only be taken in periods of not less than 1 week’s duration and shall be taken within the 52-month period that begins on the first day of the week in which the child became critically ill. Labour Standards Code § 60SA – 60SG.
An employee who has been in continuous employment for at least 3 months with an employer and is a parent of a child who dies or disappears as a result of crime is entitled to unpaid leave for a duration of 104 weeks and 52 weeks respectively. The leave shall only be taken during the 104 weeks and 52 weeks’ timeframe that begins the week when the child is found dead or disappeared and shall be taken in a single period.
In case, the child is found within 52 weeks from the week the disappearance occurred, then the employee is entitled to leave for 14 days after the day on which the child is found alive or 104 weeks of unpaid leave if found dead. In case the child is found dead, any remaining leave granted initially (52 weeks’ timeframe) ends.
If the child is found dead after 52 weeks from the time of disappearance, then the employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks from the day the child is found dead. In case the disappearance or the death of the child is not as a result of the crime, the employees are eligible to 14 days of unpaid leave unless there is an agreement between the employer and employee on an earlier date of return. Labour Standards Code § 60T – 60X.
Employees who have been in continuous employment for at least 3 months are entitled to unpaid leave for domestic violence experienced by them or their child below the age of 18. The employee is entitled to 10 days of leave which an employee can take intermittently or consecutively.
The employee may also take up to 16 consecutive weeks per calendar year. Up to three days of the leave must be paid by the employer. To qualify for domestic violence leave, the employee must have worked with the employer for at least three months. Labour Standards Code § 60Y – 60ZB.
Last updated on: April 12th, 2021