Changes to the minimum wage
Starting April 1, 2022, the minimum wage will increase to the following amounts over the next two years:
There are three minimum wage orders:
This section deals with the Minimum Wage Order (General). There are separate minimum wage orders for employees employed in construction and property maintenance as well as those employed in logging and forest operations. For information on those minimum wage orders, contact Labour Standards.
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. It also sets employment standards for the following:
As of April 1, 2022, employers must pay employees at least $13.35 per hour. Generally, any increases in minimum wage will occur on April 1st and the public will be notified of the increase in advance. For the next couple of years, however, the minimum wage is scheduled to increase twice a year, in April and October.
The Minimum Wage Order (General) 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 webpage on Overtime).
If an employee is called in to work outside the employee's 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 $40.05 ($13.35 x 3 hours). This is true even if the employee works only one or two hours. For example, if the employee makes $17 per hour and the employee is called in for one hour's work, the employer must pay the employee at least $40.05.
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.
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 $8 for each hat the employee sews. During a one-week period the employee produces 40 hats. The employee is entitled to be paid: $8 per hat x 40 hats, or $320. To produce the 40 hats, the employee worked 30 hours. At the minimum wage the employee would have earned $400.50 ($13.35 x 30 hours of work). The employee is entitled to be paid at least the same as if the employee was being paid the minimum wage for each hour worked. The employee is, therefore, owed an additional $80.50 ($400.50 - $320).
Note this rule does not apply to employees employed on a farm whose work is directly related to harvesting fruit, vegetables and tobacco.
Note: An employer cannot charge an employee for a meal not received.
For employees paid more than the minimum wage, the deductions could be larger in total than the above amounts, but they must not bring the employee below the minimum wage by more than the above amounts.
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 $13.70 per hour, then the employee earns $411 ($13.70 x 30) each week. If the employer takes $25 off the weekly pay for a uniform, then the employee will have earned $386 that week, or $12.86 per hour (386 ÷ 30). Since $12.86 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.
The minimum wage rules do not apply to the following employees:
That would be lawful as long as you earn, each pay period, at least minimum wage (base rate plus commissions) for all time worked during that period. As an employee paid commission, you would also want to make sure you don’t fall within any of the exceptions to minimum wage.
If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.