Canada: Jurisdictional Summary - Northwest Territories

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

All references are to the Employment Standards Act, SNWT 2007 c 13, unless otherwise noted.

HOURS OF WORK 8 hours per day standard: 7(1) 10 hours per day max: 8

40 hours weekly standard: 7(2) 60 hours weekly max: 8(2)

Ability to extend on agreement: 7(3), subject to 8

Hours or work may be extended beyond maximum if employee is required to work in emergency situations: 8(4)
  1. accident to machinery, equipment, plant or person;
  2. urgent and essential work required for machinery, equipment or plant; or
  3. other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances

To the extent necessary to prevent "serious interference with the ordinary working of the industrial establishment" 8(5)

REST PERIODS At least: 21
  1. 1 day of rest in each work week;
  2. 2 consecutive days of rest in each period of 2 consecutive work weeks; or
  3. 3 consecutive days of rest in each period of 3 consecutive work weeks.
OVERTIME Overtime threshold is 8 hours on each work day or 40 hours in each work week. Employer must pay overtime at least one and one-half times regular rate for each hour in excess of threshold 9(1), subject to any provisions in an order under section 11 9(2).

If employee wages not computed and paid solely on basis of time, the employee's wage rate for calculating overtime is the prescribed minimum wage or minimum wage fixed by an order under subsection 6(2) applicable to the employee: 9(3).

If employee is paid partly by salary and partly by commission or incentive, the employee's wage rate for calculating overtime is the greater of: 9(4)
  1. hourly rate applicable to the time component of the wages; and
  2. the wage

Employment Standards Officer may authorize employer to increase hours above max if the nature of work is seasonal; or exceptional circumstances justify the additional hours: 10(1)

Employment Standards Officer may authorize employer to calculate standard and max hours per day and week as an average for a period of one or more weeks, if the nature of the work requires irregular distribution of an employee's hours of work: 11(1). The order may authorize reducing number of days required to work in a week (2). Employer must apply for the order with majority consent of affected employees (3). Order made under this section must specify the hours of work that are overtime and any conditions applicable to the order (4).

Before making an order, the Employment Standards Officer shall consider 11(5):

  1. nature of the industrial establishment
  2. conditions of employment in the industrial establishment
  3. welfare of the employees in the industrial establishment

Employee or majority of group of employees may enter into an overtime agreement 12(1) as part of a collective agreement, or if there is no collective agreement, in a written agreement between the employer or group of employees and the employer 12(2), providing that instead of overtime pay, the employer will provide and group of employees will take, time off with pay instead.

An overtime agreement must be provided to each employee affected: 12(4) and include at least the following provisions 12(3):

  1. each hour entitles employee to one and a half hours' time off with pay instead of overtime pay;
  2. time off with pay at employee's regular wage instead of overtime;
  3. taken during time the employee could have worked and received wages from the employer;
  4. If no time off with pay is provided, employer will pay overtime pay;
  5. time off with pay will be taken and paid within 3 months of end of pay period it was earned, unless:

    1. the agreement is part of a collective agreement which provides for longer period within which to take time off with pay, or
    2. the Employment Standards officer authorizes a longer period within which to take time off with pay.
  6. no amendment or termination of the agreement without at least 1 month's written notice by one party to the other.

Certain type of jobs are specifically exempted from the overtime provisions by way of regulation. For example, a person in the field of dentistry, law or nursing. See R-014-2009, s 2 for full exemptions.

MINIMUM WAGE Employers required to pay minimum wage as prescribed by regulation: 6

As of April 1, 2011, general minimum wage rate is $10 per hour. R-012-2010, s 2.
EMPLOYMENT OF YOUTH Restricted employment of youth (under 16) SNWT 2008 c 1, s 2; youth cannot work between 11:00pm and 6:00am, or during the hours that the school the youth attends is in session: 47

Restrictions on employing youth in the occupation of construction: 45.
HOLIDAY Entitled to holiday with pay for: New Year's Day; Good Friday; Victoria Day; National Aboriginal Day; Canada Day; the first Monday in August; Labour Day; Thanksgiving Day; Remembrance Day; Christmas Day: 22(1)

Employer can substitute another day for a public holiday: 22(2); Must pay employee regular wages or average of daily wages for 4 weeks worked before the holiday: 23.

If employee works on a public holiday, employer shall pay:
  1. overtime; or
  2. give the employee a substitute holiday
VACATION Employers required to provide at least 2 weeks of vacation after each of first five years of employment: 24(2)(a), and 3 weeks after the sixth and subsequent years of employment with the same employer 24(2)(b).

Employer must give vacation in one unbroken period no later than 6 months after entitlement:


When calculating entitlement, each year of employment for the same employer, whether continuous or not, is included :


On employee request, vacation may be given in 2 or more periods as long as each vacation period is at least 1 day long: 37(2).
LEAVES OF ABSENCE PREGNANCY - 17 weeks without pay starting at any time during the 17 weeks immediately before the due date 26(1), if employed for at least 12 months prior to commencement: 26(2)(a). Employees required to give 4 weeks' written notice prior to leave: 26(2)(b). If no prior notice given, employee still entitled if, within 2 weeks after taking leave, employer is provided with a medical certificate: 26(3). Employer may give written notice to employee to start leave if Employment Standards Officer is satisfied that the pregnancy interferes with ability to perform duties: 27(1).

PARENTAL - 37 weeks without pay, so long as employee has been employed for at least 52 weeks 28(1), (5) to begin within 52 weeks after child's birth; or in the case of an adoptive parent, after the child is placed with the adoptive parent for purpose of adoption 28(2). Only entitled to one period of leave regardless of the number of newborn or adopted children that are born or arrive simultaneously 28(4).

Parental leave following pregnancy leave must commence immediately after the later of (a) the day the pregnancy leave expires; or (b) the day the child arrives at employee's home: 28(7)

Employees are required to give 4 weeks' written notice prior to the leave: 28(5)(b). If unable to meet notice requirements, employee is entitled to 6 weeks' leave without pay if the placement of an adoptive child was sooner than expected: 28(6).

SICK LEAVE - at least 5 days each year without pay: 29. To be eligible, employee must be incapable of working because of illness or injury, have been employed by employer for at least 30 days, and submit to employer at earliest reasonable opportunity, a request for sick leave advising employer of duration or expected duration of the leave: 29(2).

COMPASSIONATE LEAVE - up to 8 weeks to provide care or support to a seriously ill family member if the employee is the primary caregiver and a qualified physician provides a certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks or shorter: 30(2). Leave can be taken in separate periods but no period of leave may be less than one week's duration: 30(4).

BEREAVEMENT LEAVE - without pay to attend the funeral of or memorial service for a family member: 31. Up to three days if service or funeral is within the employee's community; or seven if outside the community: 31(2).

COURT LEAVE - without pay to answer summons for selection to serve on a jury; serve on a jury; or answer summons to attend as a witness in legal proceeding: 32.

RESERVIST - Employee entitled to leave without pay, after six months of employment, if a member of the reserve force to accommodate that service: 32.1(2). Employee must provide 4 weeks' written notice or at the earliest reasonable opportunity, including the estimated date of resuming work: 32.1(3) and (4).
TERMINATION/SEVERANCE Written notice of termination required after 3 months of employment: 37. Notice requirement is at least two weeks plus one additional week for each year of employment over two years, to a maximum of eight weeks: 38(2).

To terminate 25 or more employees at once, or within a period not exceeding four weeks, must give copy of notice to the Employment Standards Officer and any trade union of which the employees are members: 41(1). Copies of notice must be given in advance of proposed date of termination at least:
  1. four weeks, if fewer than 50 employees to be terminated;
  2. eight weeks, if more than 49 and fewer than 100 employees to be terminated;
  3. 12 weeks, if more than 99 and fewer than 300 to be terminated; or
  4. 16 weeks, if 300 or more employees are to be terminated.

LAYOFF - Employer must give notice of temporary layoff and indicate expected date of return to work: 42. "Temporary layoff net to ..." and not to exceed 45 days during a period of 60 consecutive days: 42. Employment Standards Officer may extend a temporary layoff for a period exceeding 45 days if special circumstances justify the extension or the employee will be recalled: 43.

EXEMPTIONS Certain categories of employees are exempt from the provisions of the Act related to hours of work, rest periods, overtime, minimum wage and vacation (sections 7 to 11). These categories are prescribed by regulation R-014-2009, s. 2, and are:

Licensed members and practitioners of:
  1. dentistry or student in training
  2. professional engineering or student in training
  3. law or student-at-law
  4. practical nursing
  5. medicine or student in training
  6. registered midwifery
  7. registered nursing
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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