Remembrance Day Act
The following is intended to assist with a general understanding of the Remembrance Day Act.
While this should help with most situations, there may be some instances where a more detailed or specific interpretation is required. In such instances, we recommend seeking legal advice.
Two government departments play a role in the administration of the Act:
Provisions Governing which Businesses must Close: Department of Justice
The Department of Justice is responsible for administering the business closing provisions of the Act.
If you have questions or are seeking guidance on the application of this Act (except the holiday with pay provisions), you may consult a navigator at the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness for assistance.
Holiday with Pay Provisions: Labour Standards Division, Labour and Advanced Education
The Labour Standards Division with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education administers the holiday with pay provisions of the Act.
For questions about holiday pay provisions, contact the Labour Standards Division.
Remembrance Day is a unique holiday in Nova Scotia. It has its own legislation, the Remembrance Day Act, to ensure we pay tribute to the many who have and those who do stand ready to sacrifice themselves to protect our rights and freedoms.
The Act includes rules which prohibit some businesses from operating on November 11, it includes rules about holiday pay for certain employees who work on that day, and it also exempts certain businesses from the rules altogether.
Key Features of the Remembrance Day Act:
- Remembrance Day must be observed on November 11.
- The Act generally prohibits people from working, selling or purchasing goods or real estate on Remembrance Day. For example, most grocery stores, big box stores and retail malls must close on November 11.
- The Act also provides specific exceptions for certain businesses, trades and professions to allow them to perform certain functions on November 11.
- Employees who work on November 11 may be entitled to another day off with pay. This benefit does not apply to employees whose employers are exempt from the requirement to close.
- Employees who do not work on November do not get paid for the day unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit.
- If November 11 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, some people (e.g., government employees, bank employees, students) may be off on the following Monday.
How Remembrance Day affects business operations
The Remembrance Day Act prohibits many businesses from operating on November 11: most grocery stores, big box stores, many smaller retail operations and retail malls.
It also outlines:
- Businesses that can operate on November 11 under certain conditions (outlined below); and
- Businesses that are exempt from the requirement to close on Remembrance Day (outlined below).
These distinctions are important because they impact whether employees who work on Remembrance Day are entitled to another day off with regular pay.
Businesses that can operate November 11:
While many retail businesses must close on November 11, the following retail businesses can operate:
- stand-alone drug stores (i.e. not those in grocery stores)
- service stations
- hospitality industry businesses (accommodations, food, beverages, recreation, camping, tourist information services, private clubs, fraternal organizations and veterans’ organizations)
- stores with no more than three people operating the store at any one time
- bakeries baking products for sale on the next day
While many non-retail businesses and services are not allowed to operate on Remembrance Day, the following non-retail operations can operate:
- hospitals or operations that provide relief of sickness or suffering (e.g., long-term care facilities)
- licensed day care facilities
- police officers, firefighters, prison guards, furnace tenders, watchpersons, janitors or domestic servants
- operations carrying out emergency repairs
- buses, trains and other public transportation for passengers/goods and work required for their operation
- caring for perishable products and live animals
- dairy operations and dairy manufacturing, processing and distribution of products directly to the consumer
- fish plants and meat packing plants, if closing would cause serious deterioration of product quality, and any work required for receiving, paying for and shipping these products
- work that, if not done on Remembrance Day, would cause a break in the continuous supply of electricity, telephone service, heat, fuel oil, gas, gasoline, light or water
- work related to conducting commemorative or religious ceremonies
- brokers registered under the Securities Act who conduct business on stock exchanges outside of Nova Scotia
- broadcasting operations, newspaper publishers including work related to preparing, printing or distributing a newspaper
Employees of businesses that can operate on Remembrance Day and who actually work on November 11 may be entitled to another day off with regular pay. See below for more information.
Businesses exempt from the requirement to close in the Remembrance Day Act
The requirement for business closure does not apply to the following types of businesses, trades or professions, which may operate on Remembrance Day:
- farming, fishing and aquaculture operations
- Christmas tree operations
- tree harvesting, logging and forest industry as defined by the Labour Standards Code
- mines, quarries, factories (including ship building), power generation, construction and inbound and outbound call centers, defined as “industrial undertakings” by the Labour Standards Code.
This means that November 11 is a regular business day for these types of businesses and employees are paid as they would be normally.
Where Only Part of a Business, Trade or Profession Falls within an Exception
As noted above, certain types of work activities are permitted on Remembrance Day. Some businesses have different aspects within their operation.
There may be situations where some aspects of a business may be allowed to operate but other aspects are not.
Example: A business that carries out emergency repairs, such as fixing a broken furnace or electrical system, is permitted to operate on Remembrance Day. Any related work that is necessary to support emergency repairs is also permitted, for example, a dispatch/call service or work performed by an administrative assistant to take calls from customers. However, if that same business also performs routine maintenance on equipment as part of normal operations, that work cannot be performed on Remembrance Day.
Where a Portion of a Shift Falls on Remembrance Day
Even businesses, trades and professions that cannot operate on Remembrance Day are allowed to operate until 6 am on Remembrance Day to finish a regular shift that started the previous day and after 9:00 pm on Remembrance Day to begin a regular shift that continues into the next day.
If a business, trade or profession is prohibited from operating on Remembrance Day, the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education may grant a permit for work required in an emergency situation where the circumstances are beyond human control and where no other arrangements can be made.
For Example: If a stand alone drug store in a community that has only two such retail operations suffers a fire or water main break on November 9, a drug store located in a department store might seek a permit to operate on November 11 in order to assist in meeting the needs of the community on Remembrance Day.
To apply for a permit to work you can write to the Minister to request a permit to operate on Remembrance Day. You will need to explain the nature of the emergency, outlining why the situation is beyond your control and why other arrangements cannot be made to address the emergency.
In granting a permit to operate, the Minister can attach conditions that the Minister believes are fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
Permits cannot be sought retroactively.
Sale of Alcohol and Entertainment
The Act does not allow the sale of alcohol and the holding of performances, which would include games, matches, sports, contests, exhibitions, entertainment, dances, programs and theatrical and motion picture presentations before 12 o’clock noon on Remembrance Day.
This applies to all persons in the Province, not just those operating or employed in a business, trade or profession. For example, this applies to amateur performers as well as to non-profit organizations that may organize a fundraiser involving performers.
Period of Silence
Businesses and services that are allowed to operate on Remembrance Day must suspend operations for 3 minutes starting at 10:59 am on November 11.
The period of silence does not apply to the following businesses: farming, fishing, aquaculture, Christmas tree operations, forestry and industrial undertakings.
Holiday with Pay Rules
The Remembrance Day holiday rules are different than the general holiday rules in the Labour Standards Code. For example, employees must work on Remembrance Day to qualify for the holiday. This is not the case for general holidays under the Code.
In addition, employers cannot substitute a day other than November 11 for the Remembrance Day holiday. This means, for example, that a business cannot decide to treat June 30 as the Remembrance Day holiday each year, in substitution for November 11, in order to provide employees with additional time off. By contrast, employers can substitute different dates for the general holidays under the Code provided they meet certain criteria set out in the Code.
Example: A bakery that bakes products for sale the following day is open 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, and has 6 employees, 4 of whom are scheduled to work on Saturday, November 11. If 2 of the 4 employees scheduled to work arrange with the employer to work on another date, they are not entitled to a day off with pay for the November 11 holiday. The other 2 employees who actually work on Saturday, November 11 may arrange with the employer to have another day (such as Monday, November 13), as a paid day off work.
Employees of businesses which are permitted to open earn a day off with pay if:
- they are employed in a business, trade or profession other than farming, fishing, aquaculture, Christmas tree operations, forestry or an industrial undertaking;
- they work on November 11; and
- they are entitled to receive wages for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days immediately preceding November 11.
The day off with pay must be taken:
- on the next working day after the employee’s annual vacation period; or
- on another day agreed to by the employee and the employer.
Employees do not earn premium pay (e.g., time and a half) for the time worked on the holiday under the Remembrance Day Act. However, employers may provide a greater benefit of premium pay under a contract of employment (e.g., a collective agreement).
As noted above, certain types of businesses, trades or professions are exempt from the requirement to provide their employees, who work on Remembrance Day, with an alternate day off with pay. For these businesses, November 11 is a regular business day and the holiday with pay provisions do not apply.
If someone fails to follow any of the Remembrance Day rules, they could be found guilty of a summary conviction offence and liable to pay a penalty of up to $1,000.
If an employer authorizes, directs, or knowingly permits anything to be done that violates the Act, they could be found guilty of a summary conviction offence and liable to pay a much more serious penalty of up to $15,000.
If a business, trade or profession is violating the closing provisions of the Remembrance Day Act, an individual may contact the non-emergency line of the local police department to investigate.
For More Information
After reviewing the information referenced above, if you still have questions about whether your business, trade or profession can operate on Remembrance Day, you may consult a navigator at the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness for assistance.
For questions about holiday pay provisions, contact the Labour Standards Division.