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Understanding Statutory Holiday Pay in Nova Scotia

The Labour Standards Code in Nova Scotia gives employees who qualify six statutory holidays with pay every calendar year:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Nova Scotia Heritage Day (starting in February of 2015)
  • Good Friday
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Christmas Day

Note: A separate law covers Remembrance Day.

Which employees qualify for paid holidays in Nova Scotia?

To qualify to have a day off with pay for these holidays an employee must:

  • be entitled to receive pay for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday and
  • have worked on his/her last scheduled shift or day before the holiday and on the first scheduled shift or day after the holiday

Being entitled to work 15 out of the 30 calendar days immediately before the holiday does not necessarily mean the employee has worked 15 out of 30 days. For example, if an employee is sick and the employer has a paid sick time policy, or if the employee is attending a course and is being paid wages for attending, the employee may still qualify for the paid holiday.

Also, the employee must have worked on his/her last scheduled shift before the holiday and on his/her first scheduled shift after the holiday. The important word to note is “scheduled.” If the day before or after the holiday is one when the employee is not scheduled to work, then he/she may still qualify for the paid holiday as long as he/she worked his/her scheduled shift.

How does an employer pay an employee for a statutory holiday?

If an employee qualifies for the holiday and is given the day off, the employer must pay a regular day’s pay for that holiday.

If an employee’s shifts vary in the number of hours worked from day to day, the employer must determine the employee’s average daily hours over 30 days prior to the holiday in order to calculate what to pay the employee for the holiday. 

  • For example, if an employee worked 20 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday for a total of 160 hours, the calculations would be as follows:  160 ÷ 20 = 8 average hours worked per shift. This employee would get paid 8 hours for the holiday.

If the holiday falls on an employee’s regular day off, the employee is entitled to an alternate day off with pay.

How does an employer calculate holiday pay when the employee works on a holiday?

An employee who works on a statutory holiday and who qualifies to be paid holiday pay is entitled to receive both of the following:

  • the amount the employee would have normally received for that day and
  • one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of  wages for the number of hours worked on that holiday 

What about Remembrance Day?

An employee who works on Remembrance Day and who is entitled to receive wages for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days immediately before Remembrance Day may be entitled to receive another day off with pay. That day with pay may be taken at the end of the employee’s vacation or any other day the employee and employer agree upon.

There are special rules for employees who work in a continuous operation. To learn more about these rules visit this link.

Some employees in Nova Scotia are not covered by the rules governing statutory holidays. To learn more about these employees visit this link.

If you have further questions, please contact Labour Standards in Nova Scotia.