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Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia: An Employer’s Guide

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The current minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $13.35 per hour. It is set to increase to $13.60 on October 1, 2022. Provincially regulated employers are obligated to pay their minimum wage staff the correct minimum wage.

What is minimum wage?

Minimum wage is the lowest wage you can pay your staff. Every province’s minimum wage rate is covered by its employment standards legislation. Employers can pay their employees more wages if they wish to, but they cannot pay them less than the provincial minimum wage. Those working in federally regulated industries, such as railways, postal services, banks, etc., receive the federal minimum wage.

What are the rules around paying employees when they are called into work outside of regular work hours?

Employers must pay employees for at least three hours of work at the minimum wage rate when an employee is called into work outside of work hours. This applies even if the employee works less than three hours.

Are employees to be paid if they are waiting for work?

Yes. If an employee is in the workplace at the request of the employer, waiting for work, the employer is required to pay the employee at least the minimum wage for those hours. For example, an employee at a coffee shop is asked to come in 7am but it is only at 8am that business picks up. The employee works from 8am to 12pm. The employer would be required to pay the employee their regular wage for the 8 to 12 shift plus at least the minimum wage for the time spent waiting from 7am to 8am.

What about employee pay related to piecework?

The piecework arrangement is when employers in Nova Scotia pay employees by the quantity produced and not by the hour. As per the general minimum wage order, employers can’t pay employees less for piecework than what employees would have earned at the minimum wage for the number of hours worked.

The only exception to this rule is staff employed on a farm whose work is directly related to picking fruit, vegetables and tobacco.

What about deductions related to board and lodging?

Employers can deduct the following amounts for board and lodging from an employee’s minimum wage:

  • For board and lodging for each week: $68.20
  • For board only for each week: $55.55
  • For lodging only for each week: $15.45
  • For a single meal: $3.65

Can the cost of uniforms be deducted from the Nova Scotia minimum wage?

Employers may not take the cost of a uniform from the employee’s wages if doing so will take their hourly wage below the minimum wage. However, employers can deduct the cost of dry cleaning a uniform made of wool or a heavy material from the employee’s minimum wage. The employer is allowed to do this even if the employee’s wages fall below the minimum wage.

Which employees are not covered by minimum wage rules?

The Nova Scotia minimum wage rules do not apply to the following employees:

  • Certain farm workers
  • Apprentices employed under the terms of an apprenticeship agreement under the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act (see NS Apprenticeship Agency)
  • Anyone receiving training under government-sponsored and government-approved plans
  • Anyone employed at a non-profit playground or summer camp
  • Real estate and car salespersons
  • Commissioned salespersons who work outside the employer’s premises, but not those on established routes
  • Insurance agents licensed under the Insurance Act
  • Staff working on a fishing boat
  • Employees covered by the minimum wage orders concerning Logging and Forest Operations and Construction and Property Maintenance
  • Employees who provide domestic service for or give personal care to an immediate family member in a private home and are working for the householder
  • Employees who provide domestic service for or give personal care in a private home and are working for the householder for 24 hours or less per week
  • Athletes while engaged in activities related to their athletic endeavour

Do you have questions about the Nova Scotia minimum wage increase?

Our experts can help you with any questions related to the Nova Scotia minimum wage increase and assist you with any HR, health and safety or employment advice you may need.

As a trusted HR and health & safety consulting company, Peninsula serves over 5,000 small businesses across Canada. Peninsula’s clients receive ongoing updates of their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. They also benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are supported by legal assistance.

To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652.