Introduction to Labour Standards

What is Labour Standards?

 

Labour Standards Division

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

 

What the Legislation Does

Labour Standards legislation establishes the minimum employment rules in Nova Scotia that employers and employees must follow. It includes rules specific to recruiting workers and hiring foreign workers.

These rules also 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 in the legislation.

Employees, employers and recruiters have rights and responsibilities under these rules. A person who feels they have not received a benefit under the legislation can contact Labour Standards about filing a Labour Standards complaint (see also section 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 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 an independent contractor
  • employees who do domestic service for or give personal care to an immediate family member in a private home and are working for the householder (foreign worker protections do apply to this group)
  • employees who do domestic service for or give personal care in a private home and are working for the householder for 24 hours or less per week (foreign worker protections do apply to this group)

As well, we do not process complaints from:

  • 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, or assisted another employee in making a complaint, under the Labour Standards Code
  • who is about to make an inquiry about their rights or another employee’s rights under the Labour Standards Code
  • who has initiated an inquiry, investigation or proceeding, or has assisted another employee in initiating an inquiry, investigation or proceeding 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 discussed or disclosed information in the workplace about their wages or the wages of another employee, as permitted by the Labour Standards Code
  • who has taken or said that they intend to take (or if the employer believes the employee will take) a leave of absence that an employee may take under the Labour Standards Code
  • who has exercised their 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 for the Division to have the authority to address the complaint. For example, an employee begins a job on July 2, 2019 and regularly works overtime hours without receiving overtime pay. Ten months later, on May 1, 2020, the employee files a complaint with Labour Standards claiming overtime pay dating back to their first week of employment. Labour Standards cannot order the employer to pay overtime pay owed since July 2, 2019. Labour Standards can only order the employer to pay overtime pay owed between November 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020, which is the 6-month period immediately preceding the date the employee filed the complaint.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.

 

See Also