Providing paid vacation for your employees in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code regulates that employees are required to take time off for annual vacation and to be paid vacation time. Although employees begin earning vacation on their first day of employment, an employee becomes entitled to receive an annual vacation after being employed for 12 months.

What are the employer’s responsibilities revolving around the annual vacation entitlement?

An employer is responsible to give an employee an annual vacation of:

  • At least 2 weeks after 12 consecutive months of employment, or
  • At least 3 weeks after 8 years of employment with the same employer.
  • Ensure employees take vacation within 10 months of earning it.
  • Help employees determine when their vacation will be taken. Generally employers let their employees choose when to take vacation time; however, the employer has the final say and must notify employees when their vacation will begin at least one week in advance.

If the employer and employee agree, the vacation time can be broken up into two or more periods.

Employees who work full time must take vacation time. Those who work less than 90 per cent of regular working hours during the 12 months when they earned vacation can give up vacation time and just collect their vacation pay.

How is vacation pay calculated?

An eligible employee is entitled to:

  • 4% of gross wages if the employee has been employed for less than 8 years.
  • 6% of gross wages if the employee has been employed by the same employer for 8 years or longer.

Vacation pay must be paid:

  • At least one day before the employee goes on vacation, or
  • Included with the employee’s hourly rate on every pay cheque
  • If an employee is terminated the vacation pay must be received within 10-days of termination.

The employer must make it clear to each employee how they are being paid their vacation pay. The employer can do this by:

  • Showing accumulated vacation pay on every pay stub, or
  • Showing on the paystub that vacation pay is paid out with each pay, or
  • Having employees sign a clear statement acknowledging they are aware that vacation pay is included in their hourly rate of pay, or
  • Stating on each paystub that vacation pay is included in the hourly rate of pay.

For more information please see the Labour Standards Vacation Time and Vacation Pay section of the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Website.

You can also contact your CFIB Business Counsellor at 1-888-234-2232 or