The Labour Standards Code says that employees must be paid for their work. In most cases they must earn a minimum hourly rate as set by the minimum wage orders. There are also strict rules about the types of deductions employers can make from employees' pay (see also information sheets on Minimum Wage and Deductions from Pay).
Pay includes wages (for example, hourly, salary, commissions, piecework, holiday pay, overtime pay) and vacation pay. Pay does not include tips and gratuities. Tips and gratuities are not protected by the Labour Standards Code.
Employers must give employees pay stubs when paying their wages. The pay stub must show:
Employers can provide electronic pay stubs as long as employees are able to confidentially access and print the electronic pay stub.
Employers must pay employees by cheque, cash, money order, email transfer or direct deposit.
An employer cannot pay an employee — who is doing substantially the same work as another employee — a different rate of pay based on gender. This rule applies not only to employees who identify as female or male but also employees who do not identify exclusively, or at all, with the gender binary of female or male. Employers may pay different rates of pay only if the difference in pay between employees of different genders is based on:
For example, an employer can hire employees of different genders to do the same job and offer them a different rate of pay based on their level of education and previous work experience. Another example, employees of different genders doing the same job could be paid a different rate of pay because one of the employees works the night shift and the other does not.
If employees have not been paid equal pay for equal work, employers must raise wages, not lower them, to achieve equal pay.
The equal pay rules in the Labour Standards Code are different from pay equity or equal pay for work of equal value. For questions about pay equity, contact the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
Employers sometimes ask job applicants about their wage history to determine the applicant’s value to the business and give the employer a sense of what compensation the job applicant might be expecting. This practice can perpetuate unfairness for individuals whose pay history reflects unequal pay based on their gender. To address this issue:
Some employers forbid employees from discussing their pay with others. Pay secrecy rules can prevent employees from identifying situations of unequal pay. To address this issue:
The Code does not keep an employer from sending an employee home before the employee's shift ends. In general, employers are not required to pay employees for hours not worked. One exception, however, would be where the employee was called into work outside of the employee's regular scheduled hours and the employee worked less than three hours. In such situations of unscheduled shifts, called call-ins, employees would have to be paid at least 3 hours at the minimum wage.
The Code and Regulations do not provide for pay entitlement specific to training. Such entitlement would be assessed on a case by case basis. For example, we would consider whether there was an existing agreement between the employer and employee prior to the training, whether the employee's attendance at training is required by the employer, whether the employer directly benefits from such training, etc.
If the employee is required to attend First Aid Training, or any other safety related training, the employee may want to contact Health and Safety for information concerning an employer's responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Code and Regulations do not provide for paid leave for storm days or any other such day. Unless the employer has a policy to the contrary, it would be at the employer's discretion as to whether employees would be paid for the hours not worked. This includes situations where the business shuts down early because of a storm and employees are sent home.
The Code not make any provisions for raises in pay. The only requirement regarding pay levels rests with the minimum wage. Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage, unless their type of work is specifically exempted from the minimum wage.
The Code does not contain provisions regarding retroactive pay. If the employee's employment contract provides for retro active pay or if there is a company policy that provides for retroactive pay, the Labour Standards Division may have the authority to enforce the agreement or policy.
The General Minimum Wage Order states:
"All time during which an employee waits for work on the premises of their employer at the request of the employer shall be counted as time worked."
This means that employers would have to ensure their employees were paid at least minimum wage for the hours they were required to wait on the premises for work.
For information on lawful and unlawful deductions see Deductions from Pay.
If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.
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