Protecting Pay : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

Protecting Pay


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).

Types of 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.


Pay Stubs

Employers must give employees pay stubs when paying their wages. The pay stub must show:

  • the pay period the employee is being paid for
  • the number of hours the employee is being paid for
  • the wage rate (for example, $17.00 per hour)
  • all the deductions made from the employee’s pay
  • how much the employee is being paid after deductions are made

Employers can provide electronic pay stubs as long as employees are able to confidentially access and print the electronic pay stub.

Frequency of Pay

The Labour Standards Code says that:
  • employees must be paid at least two times each month
  • employees must be paid within five working days after the end of the pay period
  • if an employee is not at work when they would normally be paid, or is not paid for any other reason, then that employee must be paid when they ask for it at any time during regular working hours

Forms of Payment

Employers must pay employees by cheque, cash, money order, email transfer or direct deposit.


Equal Pay for Equal Work

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:

  • a seniority system that pays more experienced employees a higher rate of pay than less experienced employees
  • a merit pay system that pays employees more based on a system that objectively measures employees’ performance
  • a system that pays employees more based on the quality and/or quantity of the work they produce
  • a factor other than gender

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.

Equal Pay: Wage History and Pay Secrecy

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:

  • Employers are not allowed to ask about the wage history of a job applicant or employee. Individuals can, however, voluntarily choose to provide an employer with confirmation of their wage history by providing the employer with written authorization to obtain the information from the individual’s current or former employer.
  • Employers are not allowed to require that a job applicant’s wage history meet criteria set by the employer such as a minimum or maximum level.
  • Recruiters hired by or operating under a contract with an employer to help the employer fill a position must also follow these rules.

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:

  • Employers are not allowed to keep employees from discussing or disclosing information in the workplace about their own wages or those of other employees.
  • Employers are not allowed to discipline, fire or discriminate in any other manner against employees because they have discussed or disclosed information in the workplace about their own wages or those of other employees as permitted by the Labour Standards Code.


Meetings and Hours

Employees are required to be paid for time they spend doing work at the employer’s request. Examples: If an employee is required to attend a work-related meeting, that time may be considered work. If an employer requires an employee to stay beyond the scheduled shift to conclude business (such as to close cash, clean, etc.) that may also be considered work.




If an employer sends an employee home before the employee's shift ends, does the employer have to pay the employee for the whole scheduled shift?

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.


When an employer requires an employee to take a job-related course is the employer required to pay wages for that day?

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.


Does an employer have to pay an employee who is unable to make it to work because of a storm or other weather conditions?

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.


What does the Code say about pay raises?

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.


What about retroactive pay?

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.


If an employer requires an employee to wait for work on the employer's premises, is the employer required to pay the employee for this time?

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.


Can an employer withhold pay or make deductions from an employee's pay for cash shortages, damage to the employer's property or for any other such reason?

For information on lawful and unlawful deductions see Deductions from Pay.



If you have any questions, please contact Labour Standards.


See Also


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