Changes to the minimum wage
As of April 1, 2019, employers must pay experienced employees at least $11.55 per hour. They must pay inexperienced employees at least $11.05 for each hour of work.
The Minister of Labour and Advanced Education has announced Government has accepted the recommendations of the Minimum Wage Review Committee to increase the rate and update the calculation to set the rate for the next three years. Based on the committee's review, the calculation to set minimum wage at Statistics Canada's Low Income Cut Off threshold has been updated to accurately reflect an average work week for full-time employees.
The committee recommends the minimum wage increase by about 55 cents each year. This is calculated based on a 30-cent increase plus inflation, which is projected to be 25 cents over the next three years. Starting April 1, 2022, the rate will be adjusted annually with inflation.
There are three minimum wage orders:
This information sheet deals primarily with the Minimum Wage Order (General). For information on the other two orders, contact Labour Standards.
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:
As of April 1, 2018, employers must pay experienced employees at least $11.00 per hour. They must pay inexperienced employees at least $10.50 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 of that same year.
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).
An employer who pays minimum wage and who pays employees by the hour must round up parts of hours worked 15 minutes and over. 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:
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 $33.00 ($11.00 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 $33.00.
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 $320.00. To produce the 40 hats, the employee worked 30 hours. At the minimum wage the employee would have earned $330.00 ($11.00 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 $10.00 ($330.00 - $320.00).
Note this rule does not apply to employees employed on a farm whose work is directly related to harvesting fruit, vegetables and tobacco.
An employer cannot charge an employee for a meal not received.
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 $11.05 per hour then the employee earns $331.50 ($11.05 x 30) each week. If the employer takes $25 off the weekly pay for a uniform, then the employee will have earned $306.50 that week, or $10.22 per hour (306.50 ÷ 30). Since $10.22 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:
If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.