Deductions from Pay and Minimum Wage : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

Deductions from Pay


Employers make deductions from pay for various reasons. Often these deductions are lawful, but sometimes they are not.


Lawful deductions include

Lawful deductions include:

  • statutory deductions (income tax, CPP, EI)
  • court ordered deductions (for example, garnishment)
  • those that provide a benefit to employees (for example, health plans)
  • charges for board and lodging as authorized by the Minimum Wage Orders
  • recovery of pay advances, overpayments
  • deductions for employee purchases from the employer’s business on account, if there is a clear agreement between the employee and the employer that these can be deducted
  • deductions for dry cleaning of woolen or other heavy material uniforms

These deductions can be made even if they bring the employee’s wages below the minimum wage.


Other Deductions

Some employers make deductions from employees’ pay for losses, shortages, damage, etc. Also, some employers make deductions for employee debts that are not for purchases on account. These deductions:

  • must not take the employee’s gross wages below minimum wage
  • must be authorized by a clear agreement between the employer and the employee (deductions are authorized by the employee when there is a written agreement or when the employee has acted in a way that shows he/she accepts the deduction - we recommend that employers use written authorizations for all such deductions)
If the deduction is for losses incurred while the employee is working, it must be supported by a written authorization by the employee.  The authorization should be made in advance, ideally when the employee is hired.  Authorizations made after the loss occurs will be open to challenge.  The authorization should specify the kind and amount of deductions that will be made.  It should be dated and signed by the employee.  If the deduction is for losses caused by customers leaving the employer’s business without paying for goods or services, the employer must be able to show that the loss is the fault of the employee.

Recovery of Recruitment Costs

Individuals who recruit workers for employment in Nova Scotia cannot charge the workers, including foreign workers, a fee for recruitment related services.  Employers cannot make deductions, directly or indirectly, from employees’ pay to cover the costs of recruiting.



If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.


See Also


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