There are five areas of the Labour Standards Code where the rules are different for farm workers than most other workers:

  • Requirement to pay minimum wage for farm workers who are under 16 or who harvest fruit, vegetables or tobacco on a piecework basis
  • Requirement to pay overtime
  • Holidays
  • Day of Rest
  • Call in pay

The Guide is to help people understand how Nova Scotia Labour Standards legislation applies to employment relationships, and the role of the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Division in enforcing the legislation.  There is also information on specific rules.

The Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”) provides the legal framework for the administration of the WCB’s prevention, return to work, assessment, and compensation programs.  The regulations made under the Act provide further guidance on the application of the requirements in the Act

Occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation in Canada outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker through an Act or statute and related regulations. Regulations made under an Act define the application and enforcement of an Act. Each of the ten provinces, three territories and the federal government has its own OH&S legislation.

Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations establishes workplace health and safety standards and are administered by the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

The federal Canada Labour Code applies to employees of companies or sectors that operate across provincial or international borders.  Approximately 6% of the Canadian workforce falls under the OH&S jurisdiction of the federal government. The remaining 94% of Canadian workers fall under the legislation of the province or territory where they work.

Refuse unsafe work. An employee can refuse work if they believe that the situation is unsafe to either themselves or their coworkers. If an employee believes that work should be refused:

  • The employee reports the refusal to work to their supervisor and states the reason why the situation is believed to be unsafe.
  • The employee, the supervisor, and a health and safety committee member or employee representative investigates.
  • If the situation is resolved with mutual agreement, the employee returns to work.
  • If the situation is not resolved, a government health and safety inspector is called.
  • The inspector investigates the situation and issues a written decision.

Participate in workplace health and safety activities. Employees have the right to participate in health and safety activities through a seat on the joint health and safety committee or as a worker health and safety representative. A joint health and safety committee is an advisory group of management and worker representatives. Guidelines for setting up and running the committee—including the structure of the committee, meeting frequency, and the roles and responsibilities of committee members—are set by provincial or territorial jurisdiction. 

Health and safety committees have a variety of functions, including:

  • Providing input into the development of health and safety policies and procedures
  • Obtaining and sharing information about hazards
  • Recommending ways to address potential hazards
  • Assisting in resolving work-refusal cases
  • Participating in accident investigations and workplace inspections
  • Making recommendations to management to resolve health and safety concerns

Be informed of actual or potential workplace hazards. An employee’s right to be informed of workplace hazards is federally legislated by the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Canada’s national hazard communication standard. WHMIS was created to:

  • Support provincial, territorial, and federal occupational safety and health legislation and regulations
  • Inform employees about safety and health hazards that they may encounter at work
  • Reduce the number of injuries, illnesses, deaths, and fires caused by hazardous materials

The key elements of the system are product labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and employee education programs. To fulfill WHMIS requirements, employers must:

  • Establish education and training programs for workers who will be exposed to hazardous products in the workplace
  • Ensure that controlled products are properly labelled
  • Ensure that an MSDS for each product is present and readily available to workers

Employees must also fulfill WHMIS requirements by:

  • Participating in training programs
  • Using training information to work safely with hazardous materials
  • Informing employers when labels on containers have been accidentally removed or are no longer readable

For more information, visit the WHMIS section of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Health Canada’s website also provides documents, posters, and general resources related to WHMIS. Of particular interest are the summary of employer requirements and the list of publications.

* credit CAHRC

Nova Scotia Human Rights Act

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination for specific protected characteristics and in certain areas.  Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.