Coronavirus (COVID-19): Paid Sick Leave Program

Nova Scotians who need to take time off work because of COVID-19 may qualify for up to 4 paid sick days through the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program. Businesses can apply for reimbursement for an employee’s pay when an employee needs to take time off. Self-employed people can also apply.

How the program works

Workers who can’t work remotely and miss less than 50% of their scheduled work time in a 1-week period because of COVID-19 may be eligible.

This includes people who need to take time off because they’re:

  • waiting to get a COVID-19 lab test
  • getting a COVID-19 lab test
  • self-isolating while waiting for test results
  • getting vaccinated

COVID-19 tests need to be standard PCR tests and not rapid tests.

The 4 sick days don’t need to be taken consecutively. The program will cover eligible sick days taken between 10 May 2021 and 31 July 2021.

Under the program, employers pay the employee for the time they missed and then apply for reimbursement. The payment is calculated based on the employee’s current rate of pay up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 day (the maximum total payment per employee is $640).

The program compensates wages and salaries for eligible employees and self-employed people. It doesn’t cover other payroll expenses like Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions.

Employees who miss 50% or more of their scheduled work week should apply to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.


Employers can apply for reimbursement for an employee’s sick days if they:

  • are a for-profit business or not-for-profit organization
  • have a permanent physical location in Nova Scotia
  • are registered to do business in Nova Scotia (if required)
  • are in good standing with the Government of Nova Scotia (not in default of any financial obligations like loan repayments, taxes, fines, fees and administrative and court orders)
  • are paying Nova Scotia-based employees who don’t qualify for paid sick leave under their employment agreement and aren’t receiving benefits from other COVID-19 programs

Self-employed people can apply if they:

  • are actively earning income from the business as their primary source of income
  • are registered to do business in Nova Scotia, if applicable
  • have declared business income on their most recent tax return
  • have lost income because they missed time at work
  • are in good standing with the Government of Nova Scotia (not in default of any financial obligations like loan repayments, taxes, fines, fees and administrative and court orders)
  • aren’t eligible for or receiving other income support (like Business Interruption Insurance, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit or any other income replacement or insurance programs)

These employees and employers are not eligible:

  • employees who have other sick leave benefits, even if they’ve used them up
  • businesses, officers, directors and partners of the business who aren’t in good standing with their financial obligations to the Government of Nova Scotia
  • self-employed individuals with commission-based earnings claiming for speculative income losses
  • self-employed individuals who aren’t actively earning income from their business
  • businesses that aren’t currently operating
  • federal, provincial and municipal governments, crown corporations and municipal corporations

How to apply

To apply for reimbursement, complete the application form.

You can apply for work days missed between 10 May and 31 July 2021. You don’t need a doctor’s note when you apply.

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If an employee has COVID-19 symptoms, they should schedule a test and stay home. Under the program, the employer pays them for the time they’re absent from work and then applies to the program for reimbursement.

You need to apply within 90 days of when the employee was paid.

Self-employed people

Self-employed people need to apply within 90 days of missing work.

You’ll receive a T4A from the Canada Revenue Agency for the amount you receive.

How long it takes

Direct deposit payments will be processed within 2 business days. Cheque payments may take 2 or 3 business days before they’re mailed.

Verification process

The Department of Labour and Advanced Education may conduct spot checks and audits of applications. If there is any indication that the information you provided was materially misstated, you’ll need to pay back the money you received.


For questions about applications and eligibility contact the Program Administrator:

Nova Scotia Co-operative Council