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Understand employment regulations in NWT

Which set of rules apply to my business?

Approximately 90 per cent of NWT firms fall under territorial regulations. A great place to start is the Government of NWT's Employment Standards website.

The other 10 per cent - from the grain industry, air transportation, aircraft operations, communications - fall under the Canada Labour Code. HRSDC has a list of federally-regulated workplaces. Check out Part III of the Canada Labour Code and access information about minimum wage, terminations, vacations, General Holidays, hours of work, etc.

Do these questions sound familiar? We can help!

What is the minimum wage?

As of April 1, 2019, the minimum wage rate is $13.46 per hour.

How do I pay my staff for Statutory Holidays?

NWT's 10 statutory holidays are New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, National Aboriginal Day, Canada Day, the first Monday in August, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas Day.

An employee is entitled to a holiday with pay, whether it falls on a day of work or not.

If wages are calculated on the basis of time, the amount of holiday pay must be equal to, or greater than, wages earned at the regular rate for normal hours of work. If wages are calculated on another basis, the amount of holiday pay must be equal to, or greater than, daily wages based on the average of daily wages for the four weeks worked immediately preceding the week in which the holiday occurs.

If an employee works on a holiday, in addition to holiday pay, he/she receives overtime for the time worked that day, or receives a substitute holiday before his/her annual vacation.

An employee not required to work on a holiday shall not be required to work on another day that would otherwise be a non-working day in the week in which that holiday occurs, unless paid a rate at least equal to double his/her regular rate of wages for the time worked on that day.

What are the mandatory food and rest breaks for employees?

A minimum 30 minute meal break is required after five hours of work.

Regulations under the Mine Health and Safety Act state employee have at least

  • one day of rest in each work week;
  • two consecutive days of rest in each period of two consecutive work weeks; or
  • three consecutive days of rest in each period of three consecutive work weeks.

What steps must I take to terminate a worker?

A decision to let an employee go can have legal implications for your business. CFIB recommends that you get legal advice prior to terminating an employee's employment as there are risks to your business beyond receiving an employment standards complaint and investigation.

No employer shall terminate an employee who has worked for 90 days or more, unless the employer

  • gives the employee a written notice of termination indicating the date the notice is given and the date on which the employment is terminated; or
  • pays the employee termination pay.

Exceptions to this rule do not apply to an employee who is

  • temporarily laid off;
  • employed in an activity, business, work, trade, occupation or profession that is exempted by regulation;
  • terminated for just cause;
  • terminated because the employee refused the employer's offer of reasonable alternative work; or
  • on temporary layoff and does not return to work within seven days after being requested to do so in writing by the employer.

Employers must give notice of termination to an employee in advance of the date of termination by a period of at least two weeks plus one additional week for each year of employment over two years, to a maximum of eight weeks.

An employer shall not, between the date that the notice of termination is given and the date of termination of employment, reduce an employee's wages or rate of wages, or alter any term or condition of an employee's employment.

An employer shall, between the date that the notice of termination is given and the date of termination of employment, pay wages and provide benefits to an employee to whom the notice is given in an amount not less than the wages and benefits to which the employee would have been entitled, if the employee had worked his or her usual hours of work in that period, whether or not work is required or performed.

A notice of termination is void and of no effect if an employee continues to be employed by his or her employer after the date for termination of employment specified in the notice of termination.

April 9, 2019