Canada: Jurisdictional Summary- Nova Scotia

Last Updated: December 19 2014
Practice Guide by Blaney McMurtry LLP

All references are to the Labour Standards Code, RSNS 1989, c 246 unless noted otherwise. The "Order" indicator references the current Minimum Wage Order.

HOURS OF WORK No minimum or maximum hours of work per day or week in the legislation, and the Governor in Council may determine these numbers (63)

Current Minimum Wage Order has set maximum work week hours at 48 for minimum wage purposes (Order, 9)
EATING PERIODS Employees are entitled to eating breaks of at least 30 minutes in length at intervals such that employees are not required to work longer than five consecutive hours without a break: 66B(1).

If an employee works more than 10 consecutive hours, that employee is entitled to at least one break of at least 30 minutes and other rests totalling at least 30 minutes for each five consecutive hours of work 66B(2)
REST PERIODS Employers in any industrial undertaking shall grant employees rest periods of at least 24 consecutive hours in every period of 7 days and wherever possible grant this rest period on Sunday 66(1)

Employees not working in industrial undertakings are entitled to rest periods of at least 24 consecutive hours in every period of 7 days (66)(2)
OVERTIME Not legislated in the Labour Code but covered by the Minimum Wage Order.

Current overtime wage for an employee required to work more than 48 hours a week is at least 1.5 times the minimum rate (Order, 10(1)) although employees in the transport industry shall be paid at least 1.5 times the minimum rate for time worked in excess of 96 hours in any two consecutive weeks (Order, 10(2))

Employers of employees who are required to work in excess of 48 hours in a week and are employed in a building which includes their place of residence as a health or personal care worker, watch, janitor or building superintendent, may pay at the minimum rate for the hours worked in excess of 48 hours (Order, 10(3))
MINIMUM WAGE Governor in Council has broad discretion to set the minimum wage, but employers who permit employees to perform any work with respect to which a minimum wage is established is deemed to have agreed to pay this wage (55)

As of April 1, 2014 the minimum wage was $10.40 hourly for experienced employees and $9.90 for inexperienced employees for work weeks of 48 hours or less.
MINIMUM AGE No person shall pay wages to a child under 14 years of age to do work that is or is likely to be (a) unwholesome or harmful to the child's health or normal development; or (b) such as to prejudice the child's attendance at school or capacity to benefit from instruction there given 68(1)

No person shall employ a child under 16 years of age in work of any kind in (a) an industrial undertaking; (b) the forest industry; (c) garages and automobile service stations; (d) hotels; (da) restaurants, except where an employee is not operating cooking equipment and where safety training on all equipment and adequate supervision is provided and the person is at least 14 years of age; (e) the operating of elevators; (f) theatres, dance halls, shooting galleries, bowling alleys, billiard and pool rooms; (g) work or class of work in which the employment of a child under 16 years of age is prohibited by regulation 68(2)

No person shall employ a child under 14 years of age to work (a) for more than 8 hours in any day; (b) for more than 3 hours on any school day unless an employment certificate authorizing the employment of the child has been issued under the Education Act; (c) on any day for a period that, when added to the time required for attendance at school on that day, totals more than eight hours; (d) between 10pm and 6am; (e) in any work or class of work in which the employment of a child under 14 years of age is prohibited by regulation 68(3)

Does not apply to an employer who employs members of his or her family 68(4)

VACATION Where an employee works for an employer for 12 continuous months, the employer not later than 10 months after the 12 month period ends, shall give the employee an unbroken vacation of at least two weeks, or where the employee has been with the employer for more than 8 years, an unbroken vacation of 3 weeks (32)

Employers must inform employees within 1 week when his or her vacation begins and at least one day before the vacation begins, the employer shall pay employees an amount equal to 4% or, where an employee has been with the employer for more than 8 years, an amount equal to at least 6% of the employee's wages for the 12 month period during which the employee established his or her right to a vacation (32)(1)
HOLIDAY Subject to 39 and 41, all employers shall grant all employees a holiday with pay on each general holiday falling within any period of their employment 37(2)

These days include New Year's Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day, Christmas Day and any day specified as a general holiday in a regulation 37(1)
EQUAL PAY Employers shall not pay female employees less than male employees and vice versa for employment of substantially the same work in the same establishment requiring substantially equal skill and efforts in similar working conditions 57(1)
LEAVES OF ABSENCE PREGNANCY - Employee is entitled to an unpaid leave for up to 17 weeks where she has been employed for at least 1 year, having given notice to her employer of the date she will begin the leave and return and providing upon request a certificate evincing the pregnancy and expected delivery date 59(1). Pregnancy leave cannot begin sooner than 16 weeks preceding the expected date and not later than the delivery date, and must end on such date not sooner than 1 week after delivery and not later than 17 weeks after the pregnancy leave began 59(2) and (3)

PARENTAL - Employees are entitled to an unpaid leave of up to 52 weeks upon giving notice of the date the employee will begin and return, if employed for at least one year and where the employee has become a parent through birth or adoption 59B(1)

BEREAVEMENT - Employees are entitled to an unpaid leave of up to 3 consecutive working days upon the death of a spouse, parent, guardian, child or ward and for 1 day upon the death of a grandparent, sister, brother or mother/father/son/daughter/sister/brother-in-law 60A

COURT - Employees are entitled to an unpaid leave for such time required to perform jury duty, as required by subpoena or summons or to attend as a witness 60B

COMPASSIONATE CARE - Employees employed for at least 3 months are entitled to unpaid leave for up to 8 weeks to provide care for a family member if a certificate is provided stating the serious medical condition with significant risk of death within 26 weeks from its issuance or, where the leave was begun before the certificate was issued, the day the leave was begun 60E(2)

SICK - Employees are entitled to up to 3 days unpaid due to sickness of a family member or for medical, dental or similar appointments during working hours 60G(1)

RESERVIST - Employees who have been employed for at least 1 year and are required to be absent from employment for service are entitled to an unpaid leave of absence upon giving their employer notice of the date that the leave will begin and end and providing, upon request, certification of the service 60H(2)

EMERGENCY - Employees are entitled to an unpaid leave for such time that the employee cannot perform duties because of an emergency, having given as much notice as practicable (60I)(3-4)

CRITICALLY ILL CHILD - Employees who are a parent or spouse or common-law partner of a parent, guardian, etc. of a critically ill child and have been employed for at least 3 months are entitled to up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave if certification is provided and notice given (60K)(1-3)

CRIME-RELATED CHILD DEATH OR DISAPPEARANCE - If they have been employed for at least 3 months, employees are entitled to an unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks, if the employee is the parent of a child who dies and the death is likely the result of a crime, beginning with the 105-week period that the child is found dead 60U(1) and (2). For a disappearance, the leave is unpaid for up to 52 weeks and begins in the 53-week period 60V(1) and (2)
TERMINATION/SEVERANCE Employers shall not discharge or suspend an employee without cause, subject to certain exceptions, if the employee has been employed for over 10 years (71).

Employers shall not discharge or suspend employees (unless the employee is found guilty of wilful misconduct or disobedience or neglect of duty) without giving 1 week notice if the employee's employment is less than two years, two weeks if the employment is over 2 but less than 5, four weeks if the employment is between 5 and 10 years and 8 weeks if the employment is over 10 years 72(1)

Employment may be terminated where the employer gives the employee notice in writing and pays an amount equal to all pay which the employee would have been entitled to at regular rates 72(4)
EXEMPTIONS Pursuant to NS Reg 298/90

(4A) Subsection 40(4) of the Code ("Wages not to be reduced or not paid") does not apply to persons who work as:
  1. employees for whom the Governor in Council has made a special order;
  2. apprentices under apprenticeship agreements in accordance with the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act;
  3. trainees under government-sponsored and government-approved plans;
  4. employees at a playground or summer camp that is operated on a non-profit basis;
  5. insurance agents licensed as such under the Insurance Act;
  6. employees and employers to whom the Minimum Wage Order (Logging and Forestry Operations) or the Minimum Wage Order (Construction and Property Maintenance) applies;
  7. watches, janitors or building superintendents in buildings that include their place of residence;
  8. health or personal care providers, if the client is providing a residence as part of the terms of employment;
  9. employees in the transport industry;
  10. employees who are paid on a flat rate basis and work as automobile mechanics or auto body shop technicians; and
  11. employees of enterprises engaged in primary processing or related activities in the agriculture, Christmas tree or fishing industry, but not meat
(4) Persons engaged in work the following are exempt from 32-43, 50-51, 53-56, 61-67, 71-78:
  1. as real estate salespersons;
  2. as automobile salespersons;
  3. as salespersons, other than route salespersons, who are entitled to receive all or any part of their remuneration as commissions in respect of offers to purchase or sales of goods, wares, merchandise or services which offers or sales are normally made other than at or in their employer's establishment;
  4. on fishing vessels of all types or in the operation of fishing vessels on water
(5) Persons engaged in work as employees under a collective agreement are exempted from 37-43, 66A, 71-78

Persons engaged in work as salespersons of mobile homes are exempted from 32-36

Persons engaged in work in the manufacturing or refining processes of the petro-chemical industry or in work directly related to those processes in or at their employer's manufacturing or refining establishment are exempted from 37-43

Persons engaged in work in the shipbuilding, ship repair, oil and gas industries, or related activities other than retail, are exempt from 40(4)

Persons engaged in work offshore for petroleum exploration, drilling, production, conservation, processing or transportation, or related activities, while under the jurisdiction of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board are exempted from 66

Persons engaged in the processing of herring roe during the months of August and September are exempted from the application of 68(2) of the Code

Persons engaged in work as the Deputy Minister - Office of the Premier, the Deputy Minister of the Policy Board, of the Management Board, of Intergovernmental Affairs or of a department as referred to in Section 2 of the Public Service Act, or in any other position designated as a deputy head as defined in Section 2(e) of the Civil Service Act, are exempted from 40(4), 61, 71
This document is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking legal advice. This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions on any legal matter, you should consult a professional legal services provider.

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