Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

There are three minimum wage orders:

  • Minimum Wage Order (General)
  • Minimum Wage Order (Construction and Property Maintenance)
  • Minimum Wage Order (Logging and Forestry)

This information sheet deals primarily with the Minimum Wage Order (General).  For information on the other two orders, contact Labour Standards.

 

What the Minimum Wage Order Does

First, the Minimum Wage Order (General) sets the minimum wage rate, which is the least amount of money an employer must pay an employee for each hour of work.

In Nova Scotia there are two wage rates, one for experienced employees and one for inexperienced employees. An experienced employee has done a kind of work for at least three calendar months or worked for the same employer for at least three calendar months.  An inexperienced employee has done a kind of work for less than three calendar months and has worked for the same employer for less than three calendar months.

Second, the Minimum Wage Order (General) sets employment standards for the following:

  • overtime, for some groups
  • partial hours
  • being called into work at times other than scheduled working hours
  • employees waiting for work on the work premises
  • piecework
  • deductions for board, lodging, and meals
  • deductions for uniforms

 

The New Minimum Wage Rate

As of April 1, 2014, employers must pay experienced employees at least $10.40 per hour. They must pay inexperienced employees at least $9.90 for each hour of work. The minimum wage rate applies to a work week of 48 hours or less. 

Any increases in minimum wage will occur on April 1st and the public will be notified of the increase in advance in January.

 

Overtime

The general Minimum Wage Order contains overtime requirements for some groups. Overtime is also addressed in the Labour Standards Code and in the construction and property maintenance Minimum Wage Order (see also information sheet on Overtime).

 

Partial Hours

An employer who pays minimum wage and who pays employees by the hour must round up parts of hours worked over 15 minutes.  If an employee works for between 15 and 30 minutes, the employer must pay for one half-hour (or for 30 minutes).  If the employee works for between 31 and 60 minutes, the employer must pay the employee for one full hour (or for 60 minutes). 

Here are some examples:
  • an employee who works for 7 hours and 20 minutes must be paid for at least 7 ½ hours
  • an employee who works for 7 hours and 40 minutes must be paid for at least 8 hours
Even if the employee is paid more than minimum wage, the amount paid for partial hours cannot be less than the amount that would have been paid for the day at minimum wage.  For example, if an employee works for 2.25 hours at $10.45, his/her wage would be $23.51. If he/she worked at minimum wage (currently $10.40/hour), he/she would earn $26.00 (2.5 x $10.40) because the employer would have to round up the employee’s time to 2.5 hours. He/she is, therefore, owed an additional $2.49 for this day ($26.00 - $23.51).

 

Call In

If an employee is called in to work outside his/her regular work hours, the employer must pay the employee for at least three hours of work at the minimum wage rate, that is, at least $31.20 ($10.40 x 3 hours). This is true even if the employee works only one or two hours. For example, if the employee makes $12 per hour and the employee is called in for one hour’s work, the employer must pay the employee at least $31.20.

 

Waiting for Work

Employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all time spent at the workplace, at the request of the employer, waiting to perform work. For example an employee who works at a restaurant is told by the supervisor to be at work by 8:00 am.  The employee arrives at work at 8:00 am but does not actually start performing work until 9:00 am when the restaurant starts to get busy.  The employee works serving tables from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and then leaves for the day.  In this situation, the employee would be entitled to pay at the minimum wage rate for the time he/she spent waiting for work from 8:00 am to 9:00 am.  He/she would be entitled to his/her regular rate of pay for those hours worked between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.

 

Piecework

Many employers in Nova Scotia pay employees by the amount they produce and not by the hour.  This arrangement is called “piecework.” The Minimum Wage Order (General) says that an employer cannot pay an employee less for piecework than that employee would have earned at the minimum wage for the number of hours worked.  For example, an employee is paid $7 for each hat he/she sews. During a one-week period the employee produces 40 hats. The employee is entitled to be paid: $7 per hat x 40 hats, or $280.00. To produce the 40 hats, the employee worked 30 hours. At the minimum wage the employee would have earned $312.00 ($10.40 x 30 hours of work).   The employee is entitled to be paid at least the same as if he/she was being paid the minimum wage for each hour worked. He/she is, therefore, owed an additional $32.00 ($312.00 - $280.00). 

Note this rule does not apply to employees employed on a farm whose work is directly related to harvesting fruit, vegetables and tobacco.

 

Board and Lodging

The Minimum Wage Order (General) tells employers how much they can take from an employee’s minimum wage for board and lodging that the employer provides. These amounts are as follows:
  • 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

An employer cannot charge an employee for a meal not received.

 

Deductions for Uniforms

If an employer requires employees to wear uniforms, aprons, or smocks, the employer may not take the cost of the uniform from the employees’ wages if doing so will take their hourly rate below the minimum wage.  For example, if an employee works 30 hours each week earning $10.50 per hour then the employee earns $315.00 ($10.50 x 30) each week. If the employer takes $20 off the weekly pay for a uniform, then the employee will have earned $295.00 that week, or $9.83 per hour ($295.00 ÷ 30).  Since $9.83 per hour is below the minimum wage, the employer cannot take that much from the employee’s wages for the cost of the uniform.

The employer may take from the employee’s wages the cost of dry cleaning a uniform that is made of wool or a heavy material. The employer may do this even if the employee’s wages then fall below minimum wage.

 

Employees Not Covered by the Rules

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

  • certain farm employees
  • apprentices employed under the terms of an apprenticeship agreement under the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act
  • anyone receiving training under government  sponsored and government approved plans
  • anyone employed at a non-profit playground or summer camp
  • real estate and car salespeople
  • commissioned salespeople who work outside the employer’s premises, but not those on established routes
  • insurance agents licensed under the Insurance Act
  • employees who work on a fishing boat
  • employees who fall under the minimum wage orders concerning Logging and Forest Operations and Construction and Property Maintenance
  • employees who do domestic service for or give personal care to an immediate family member  in a private home and are working for the householder
  • employees who do domestic service for or give personal care in a private home and are working for the householder for 24 hours or less per week

See also

Minimum Wage FAQ for the minimum wage increase starting April 1, 2014