1. Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  2. Working and businesses

Coronavirus (COVID-19): working and businesses

Guidance for employers and employees on how to keep workplaces safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Health Protection Act Order and public health directives

All businesses, organizations and employees need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and public health directives. The are also business and service restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Working safely

Employers and employees need to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19, protect their customers and keep each other safe.

Cleaning and disinfecting

Make sure you're keeping your workplace clean.

Clean and disinfect workspaces (a minimum of twice a day or as required). Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches and railings, and commonly used areas such as desks and tabletops.

Wash with soapy water first. Then disinfect using household cleaning products, following the directions on the label, or a solution of 5 mL of bleach per 250 mL of water, or 20mL per litre. Disinfect phones, remote controls, computers and other handheld devices with 70% alcohol or wipes.

You should also post handwashing signs and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) to encourage frequent hand cleaning.

Remove non-essential items like magazines, stuffed toys, and other items that can't be easily cleaned from reception areas.

Communication related to COVID-19

When communicating with employees and volunteers, businesses should:

  • encourage workers and volunteers to remain up to date with developments related to COVID-19
  • make sure employees and volunteers know to stay home if they're feeling sick
  • make sure employees and volunteers know the steps they should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (like social distancing guidelines and not eating while working)

Gathering restrictions

Gathering limits apply to businesses and organizations that run social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, arts and culture events or sports events. All businesses and organizations need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans, including any specific gathering restrictions.

Occupational health and safety (OHS)

Employers and employees need to work together to maintain a healthy workplace. Learn more about occupational health and safety guidance to help workplaces assess COVID-19 hazards and implement controls to reduce them.

Social distancing

Make sure employees and customers maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) whenever they can. Everyone needs to follow social distancing guidelines to stay safe, help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect others.

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19

When anyone tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health contacts them directly. Public Health works with the person to identify all their close contacts and conduct a risk assessment to determine if any of their close contacts need to self-isolate.

Public Health directly contacts anyone who needs to self-isolate. In some cases, this means Public Health contacts the person's employer if they were at work when they might have been contagious.

If Public Health doesn't contact your workplace, that means they decided the risk to people in your workplace was low. You don't need to do anything if Public Health doesn't contact you and any employees who weren't directly contacted can continue going to work.

If an employee needs to stay home, their employer can't ask them for a doctor's note. The employee contacts their employer when Public Health clears them to return to work.

Employers don't need to close their business if one of the employees tests positive for COVID-19. They do need to make sure employees are monitoring their health.

Employee support

If you need to stay home

If an employee needs to self-isolate (even if they don't have symptoms), an employer can’t require a doctor's note if the employee needs to be off work.

Employers should consider how they can support employees while they're self-isolating. Talk with employees about flexible hours or alternative work arrangements if they’re required to stay home.

Leaves, layoffs and other labour questions

If you have questions about the Labour Standards Code (like taking leave or being laid off) contact the Labour Standards Division at 1-888-315-0110.

Safety concerns

Workplaces are required to take precautions to ensure the health and safety of their employees and clients. If you're worried about safety in the workplace, you should talk to your immediate supervisor.

If the situation isn't resolved, contact your Occupational Health and Safety Committee or safety representative if you have one. Or call the Safety Branch at 1-800-952-2687.

If you're a business owner or manager and you want workplace safety advice, call the Safety Branch at 1-800-952-2687.

Trades workers’ safety

People working in trades may have special concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency has a COVID-19 tip sheet for trades workers (PDF) with more information on how to keep yourself safe.

Reopening Nova Scotia

As more businesses, organizations, services and public spaces reopen, we need to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep everyone safe. Learn more about how businesses and organizations need to prepare for reopening.