Variances : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

Variance - Hours of Labour (Period of Rest)


The Labour Standards Code states that under normal circumstances employers must grant employees a period of rest of at least 24 consecutive hours in every 7 days. In limited circumstances, employers may apply to the Director of Labour Standards for a temporary exemption from the period of rest rule.  This is called a variance.  For example, a call centre may take on a new contract and need to provide employees with training in relation to the contract within a short period of time.  The employer could apply for a variance to temporarily have employees work more than 6 days without a rest during the training period.

In determining whether to grant an exemption, Labour Standards considers a number of factors, such as:

  • if the employer’s request for an exemption is due to a special project or undertaking
  • if the exemption is temporary in nature
  • if the employer is proposing an alternative period of rest arrangement in which the number of rest days employees are entitled to following a work period are equal to at least 1 day off each 7 day period
  • if the majority of employees support the alternative period of rest arrangement requested by the employer
  • if the workplace is unionized, whether the union supports the employer’s request
  • health and safety considerations

It is important to note that even if a variance is granted, the employer still has to follow break and overtime rules. In addition, if employees are asked to work more than 6 days without a day of rest, the employer has to provide at least the amount of rest time that would accumulate during the work period.


Employees Not Covered by the Rules

The day of rest rules do not apply to the following employees:

  • most farm employees
  • commissioned salespeople who work outside the employer’s place of business
  • employees who work on a fishing boat
  • practitioners or students in training for architecture, dentistry, law, medicine, chiropody, professional engineering, public or chartered accounting,  psychology, surveying, or veterinary science
  • 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
  • employees who do domestic service for or gives personal care in a private home and are working for the householder for 24 hours or less per week
  • employees employed in offshore oil and gas work while under the jurisdiction of the Canada – Nova Scotia offshore Petroleum Board
  • athletes while engaged in activities related to their athletic endeavour

Application for a Variance

To apply for a variance, please fill out the following application form.

Application for Variance

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