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Hours of Work in Nova Scotia

Each province maintains labour standards that dictate the rules employers are to follow for payment of their employees. Nova Scotia is no exception. Here are some guidelines to help you meet Nova Scotia labour standards.

What is a work week and how many days can an employee be required to work?

A work week is seven consecutive days as designated by the employer. If the employer does not designate a week, then it is seven consecutive days starting at midnight on Sunday. Employees must receive twenty-four consecutive hours off work in each week; if possible the day off should be Sunday.

How many breaks is an employee entitled to each day and are they paid?

After five consecutive hours of work an employee is entitled to a half hour break. This break is not paid, unless the employer maintains the right of direction or control during this period, in which case it is paid.

  • For example: If a sales associate is working alone in a store and they are not permitted to leave  or to close  to take a break the employer is retaining the right of direction during the break period; therefore, the employee would get paid for their break.

When do I have to pay overtime and how is it calculated?

Overtime must be paid on any hours worked over forty eight hours per week. The minimum overtime rate is 1.5 times the minimum wage rate. Minimum wage is currently (2018) $11.00/hour which means the minimum overtime rate is $16.50/hour.

Can an employee bank overtime?

Yes. Instead of overtime pay an employee may receive 1.5 hours of paid time off work for each hour of overtime worked when an employee and employer agree to do so. This is subject to the condition that:

  • The time off must be taken within six months of the time the overtime was worked, unless the employee and employer agree to extend the time.

Are there a minimum number of hours of work for which I must pay an employee?

If an employee is called in to work and isn’t required to work at least three hours, the employer must either:

  • Let the employee work for three hours, or
  • Pay the employee for the un-worked portion at the minimum wage rate or the minimum overtime rate, whichever is appropriate.

If an employee reports for a shift of more than three hours and finds it cancelled they must be paid for three hours.

How do I pay an employee for partial hours worked?

An employer who pays minimum wage and who pays employees by the hour must round up parts of hours worked 15 minutes and over. If an employee works for between 15 and 30 minutes, the employer must pay for one half-hour (or for 30 minutes).  If the employee works for between 31 and 60 minutes, the employer must pay the employee for one full hour (or for 60 minutes).

For example:

  • An employee who works for 7 hours and 20 minutes must be paid for at least 7 ½ hours
  • An employee who works for 7 hours and 40 minutes must be paid for at least 8 hours

Even if the employee is paid more than minimum wage, the amount paid for partial hours cannot be less than the amount that would have been paid for the day at minimum wage. For example, if an employee works for 2.25 hours at $10.90, the employee's wage would be $24.53. If the employee worked at minimum wage (currently $10.85/hour), they would earn $27.13 (2.5 x $10.85) because the employer would have to round up the employee's time to 2.5 hours. The employee is, therefore, owed an additional $2.60 for this day ($27.13 - $24.53)

Do I have to pay employees for undertaking duties that cannot be completed during their normal work day?

If an employer requests that an employee be present at the workplace, then the employee should be paid. For example:

  • Mandatory attendance at a meeting held before the work day begins or after it ends
  • Staying past the scheduled end of the shift to close business for the day (cleaning, cashing out, etc.)
  • Attendance at training requested by the employer.

For further information please visit the Nova Scotia Labour Standards page