Introduction to Labour Standards

What is Labour Standards?


Labour Standards Division

The Labour Standards Division administers the provincial Labour Standards legislation by:  providing awareness sessions and presentations to employers, employees and recruiters; investigating and resolving Labour Standards complaints; auditing pay records and recruitment records; and answering inquiries from the public by phone, email and in person.


What the Legislation Does

The Labour Standards legislation sets out the minimum employment rules in Nova Scotia that employers and employees have to follow.  It also sets out rules specific to the recruitment of workers and the hiring of foreign workers.

These rules include minimum standards for wages, deductions from pay, vacation pay, overtime pay, holidays with pay, leaves, ending employment, and other things.   It is not legal for employers and employees to agree to terms, conditions, and benefits that offer less than the legislation offers.  However, employers can give their employees greater benefits than those set out in the legislation. 

Employees, employers and recruiters have rights and responsibilities under these rules.  A person who feels he/she has not received a benefit under the legislation can contact Labour Standards about filing a Labour Standards complaint (see also information sheet on Labour Standards Complaint Process).

Generally, Labour Standards legislation applies to:

  • employers whose business is regulated by the provincial government
  • employees who work for an employer regardless of the number of hours of work, e.g. permanent, full time, part time, casual, seasonal
  • recruiters who assist individuals, including foreign workers, in finding work in Nova Scotia and the individuals they assist

However, not all employees are covered by all areas of the legislation.  The rules can be complicated.  If you have any questions contact the Labour Standards Division.

The legislation does not apply to:

  • employers whose business is regulated by the federal government
  • people who are self-employed or are considered to be an independent contractor
  • unionized employees who have access to a grievance process to get what they are entitled to under their collective agreement


Discrimination under the Labour Standards Code

It is against the law to fire, layoff, or discriminate in any way against an employee:
  • who has made a complaint under the Labour Standards Code
  • who has testified or is going to testify (or if the employer believes that person is going to testify) in any investigation or hearing that takes place under the Labour Standards Code
  • who has disclosed or is about to disclose information that is required under the Labour Standards Code
  • who has taken or said that he/she intends to take (or if the employer believes he/she will take) a leave of absence that an employee may take under the Labour Standards Code
  • who has exercised his/her right to refuse to work on Sundays or Retail Closing Days
  • whose wages are being garnished

Six Months Limitation Period

Complaints must be filed with the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Division within six months of a violation of the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code taking place in order for the Division to have the authority to address the complaint.  For example, an employee begins a job on January 1, 2014 and regularly works overtime hours without receiving overtime pay.  Ten months later, on November 1, 2014, the employee files a complaint with Labour Standards claiming overtime pay dating back to her first week of employment.  Labour Standards cannot order the employer to pay overtime pay owed since January 2014.  Labour Standards can only order the employer to pay overtime pay owed between May 1, 2014 and November 1, 2014, which is the 6 month period immediately preceding the date she filed her complaint. 



If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.


See Also