Farm Workers : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

Farm Workers

There are 5 areas of the Labour Standards Code where the rules are different for farm workers than most other workers:

  • The requirement to pay minimum wage for farm workers who are under 16 or who harvest fruit, vegetables or tobacco on a piecework basis
  • The requirement to pay overtime
  • Holidays
  • Day of rest
  • Call in pay
Farm workers are defined as follows:
Persons engaged in work on a farm whose employment is directly related to the primary production of eggs, milk, grain, seeds, fruit, vegetables, Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, maple products, honey, tobacco, pigs, cattle, sheep, poultry or animal furs. Note, this definition would also include employees of greenhouses which produce the products mentioned previously.

Special note about foreign workers employed in farming

The rules outlined below may be different for farm workers who are foreign workers. This is because the Labour Standards Code prohibits employers from reducing the wages of a foreign worker, or reducing or eliminating any other benefit, term, or condition of employment that an employer agreed to provide to a foreign worker. For example, under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), employers may be required to provide pieceworkers with a higher rate of compensation than that required by the minimum wage regulations and may be required to provide these workers with regular days off.


1. Minimum Wage

  • Farm workers under the age of 16 are not required to be paid minimum wage.
  • Farm workers who are paid on a piecework basis for work directly related to the harvesting of fruit, vegetables and tobacco are not required to be paid the minimum wage.

Most other employees, including other farm workers, must receive pay at least equal to the minimum wage.


2. Overtime Pay

Employers of farm workers are not required to pay the workers overtime pay.

Most other employees are entitled to receive overtime pay equal to 1 ½ times their rate of pay after they have worked 48 hours in one week.


3. Holidays

Employers of farm workers are not required to give the workers holidays or holiday pay.

Most other employees are entitled to receive 6 paid holidays a year if they meet the qualifying criteria. These holidays are New Years Day, Nova Scotia Heritage Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day.


4. Day of Rest

Employers of farm workers are not required to give the workers at least one day off in seven.

Most other employees are entitled to receive at least one day off in every period of seven days so that they do not work more than 6 consecutive days without a period of rest of at least 24 consecutive hours.


5. Call in pay

The requirement to pay employees at least three hours at the minimum wage if they are called in outside of regular working hours does not apply to farm workers.


Important Note:

Workers involved in primary processing of agricultural products (not including meat), such as processing apples to make apple juice, are exempt from the requirement to pay hours over 48 in one week at 1 ½ times the employee's regular rate of pay.

Employers, must, however, ensure that primary processing employees are paid at least 1 ½ times the minimum wage for any hours worked over 48 in one week. Refer to the General Labour Standard Code Regulations, section 2(4)(k) and the General Minimum Wage Order.

All other provisions of the Code apply to primary agricultural processing.

A primary agricultural processor may be defined as:

Any person whose work is directly related to processing agricultural product in its raw form such as, employees who work on a farm to load/unload raw vegetables, employees who transport raw vegetables to a plant and employees who work at a plant that transforms the raw product into a more stable form. This definition does not include meat processing.