Understanding employment regulations in Nova Scotia

All businesses with employees must follow Employment Standards.  You must first determine whether your business is federally or provincially regulated. If, like almost 90% of businesses your company is regulated provincially, check out the helpful guidelines and fact sheets on employment rights available through the website of Nova Scotia's Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration. Better yet, call our Business Advisors for timely answers to your questions.

What is Nova Scotia's minimum wage?

The current minimum wage is $15.00.  

The minimum wage rate applies to a work week of 48 hours or less. 

Is Remembrance Day a paid public holiday in Nova Scotia?

In Nova Scotia, Remembrance Day is a holiday under the Remembrance Day Act and is treated somewhat differently than the five paid holidays (New Year's Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day) that fall under the Labour Standards Code

Most, but not all, employees who work on Remembrance Day and who have worked on at least 15 of the 30 calendar days immediately before Remembrance Day are entitled to receive a holiday with pay.  Note that employees who do not work on Remembrance Day do not get paid for the day.

Employees in the following industries are not eligible for an alternate day off with pay even if they work on Remembrance Day:

  • Farming, fishing and aquaculture,
  • Christmas Tree operations, tree harvesting,
  • Logging and forest industry as defined by the Labour Standards Code,
  • Industrial undertakings as defined by the Labour Standards Code (section 2(h)) *.

For more details on the Remembrance Day holiday, check out the helpful FAQ provided by the Nova Scotia government.

How do I pay my staff for public holidays?

Generally, to receive a day off with pay for public holidays, an employee must:

  • be entitled to receive wages for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday,
  • have worked their last scheduled shift or day before the holiday and the first scheduled shift or day after the holiday.

If your employee qualifies for the public holiday and is given the day off, you must pay a regular day's pay for that holiday.

When employees work on a holiday and are qualified to be paid holiday pay, they are entitled to receive the amount they would have normally received for that day AND one and a half times their regular rate of wages for the number of hours worked on that holiday.

For more details on these regulations and information on workers that are not covered by the rules for holiday pay, visit the fact sheet on paid public holidays.

What are the mandatory food and rest breaks for employees?

The general rule is an employee must be given a 30-minute food or rest break if their shift is longer than five consecutive hours. Contact our Business Advisors for exceptions to the general rule.

How do I calculate vacation pay?

Vacation Pay is calculated as 4% of gross wages. For employees having worked for the same employer over a period of eight years or more, this rate rises to 6%.

What steps must I take to terminate an employee?

Warning:  Firing can be dangerous to your business' health. The rules that follow are general. Many exceptions, levels of legislation and regulation may apply. Please call us first at 1-833-568-2342 before taking any action.

In Nova Scotia, there are very specific regulations stipulating how to terminate an employee. The general rule is to either give written notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice. In Nova Scotia, the amount of notice an employer must give depends on how long the worker has been employed. 

For example:

  • If the period of employment is is three months or more but less than two years, the employee must receive at least one week's notice or one week's pay in lieu of notice.
  • If the period of employment is two years or more but less than five years, the employee must receive two weeks' written notice or two weeks' pay in lieu of notice.
  • If the period of employment five years or more but less than 10 years, the employee must receive four weeks' written notice or four weeks' pay in lieu of notice.
  • Note that special rules apply to employees who have worked for the same employer for ten years or more.