Photo by: Jana Kennedy

As of February 2015, the Labour Standards Code, RSNS 1989, c 246 recognizes Nova Scotia Heritage Day as a statutory holiday. With some exceptions, statutory holidays entitle employees to a day off with pay. This year, Heritage Day falls on Monday, February 20, 2017.

This post will provide some highlights from the “Holidays with Pay” provisions of the Labour Standards Code.

Who qualifies for holiday pay?

 In order to receive a day off with pay for any statutory holiday under the Labour Standards Code, an employee must:

(1) be entitled to receive pay for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday; and

(2) have worked the last scheduled shift or day before the holiday and on the first scheduled shift or day after the holiday.[1]

This means that if you are a full-time employee, you are entitled to a holiday with pay. However, if you work less than full-time hours, your right to the day off with pay will depend on how you are scheduled and the hours you typically work.

Also, if the statutory holiday falls on a day that you are not usually scheduled to work, and you otherwise qualify for holiday pay, you are entitled to a holiday with pay on either the working day immediately following the holiday, or the day immediately following your vacation, or another day agreed to with the employer.[2]

How much am I entitled to receive in wages as holiday pay?

 Employers must pay employees who qualify for holiday pay their regular day’s pay for that holiday. Employees should receive the same salary or wages they would have earned if they had worked on that day. [3]

If the employee’s hours change from day to day, the employer is expected to average the hours or wages over the last 30 days, to determine the appropriate amount for holiday pay.

If you happen to work more than 48 hours in a week, you are entitled to be paid one and a half times your regular wages for each additional hour you work in excess of 48 hours.[4]

What if I have to work on Heritage Day?

 Any employee who qualifies for holiday pay and must work on a statutory holiday is entitled to receive the following:

(1) an amount for the wages the employee would normally receive for that shift; and

(2) one and a half times the employee’s regular wage rate for each hour the employee works.[5]

 Of course, like most sections of the Labour Standards Code, there are some exceptions. If you are an unionized worker, farm worker, real estate or car salesperson, commissioned salesperson, someone who works on a fishing boat or someone who is employed in a private home for domestic services, the holiday pay provisions of the Code may not apply to you. You can find more information about the Code and the exceptions on Nova Scotia’s Labour and Advanced Education website.

As well, it is also important to understand that the Code sets the floor with respect to employment laws in Nova Scotia. Employers and employees are free to negotiate terms that provide for benefits in excess of their entitlements under the Code.

For more information on employment law, please contact Balraj Dosanjh.

#WorkLawWednesday: every second Wednesday Pink Larkin answers general questions about employment and human rights law. This is not intended to be legal advice and should not be relied on as legal advice. 


[1] Labour Standards Code, section 42.

[2] Labour Standards Code, section 38.

[3] Labour Standards Code, section 40.

[4] Labour Standards Code, subsection 40(4).

[5] There are exceptions to this under the Code. If you are “employed in a continuous operation” which is defined under the Code to include certain operations, the employer has the option to pay the regular wage plus the time and a half, or grant the employee a working day off with pay: Labour Standards Code, section 41.