Changes proposed to Nova Scotia labour standards

Published February 22, 2020

The government of Nova Scotia has tabled new legislation that will result in a number of labour code changes if enacted.

Proposed changes to equal pay rules

Amendments proposed under Bill 221 would:

  • expand equal pay provisions to apply not only to men and women but also employees who do not identify, exclusively or at all, as a man or a woman;
  • prohibit employers from inquiring about the wage history of a job applicant or employee;
  • prohibit employers from banning employees from discussing or disclosing their own wages or those of other employees; and
  • establish regulation making authority to:
    • expand the equal pay provisions to prohibit employers from paying different wages based on characteristics to be identified in the regulations; and
    • develop an administrative penalty regime in the regulations.

Proposed changes to job protections

Amendments proposed under Bill 220 would:

  • reduce the period of employment required to access reservist leave from one year to three months;
  • define “service” to include active service (e.g. operations/deployment), associated activities, training (including military skills training) and eliminate provisions related to “annual training” as it is now covered in the definition of service;
  • increase the length of the leave from 18 months, within a three-year period, to 24 months within any 60-month period, and allow for a longer period of leave in a situation involving a national emergency;
  • reduce the notice period to employers from 90 days to four weeks or as much notice as reasonably possible when an employee receives less than four weeks’ notice of the requirement to participate; and
  • make the following housekeeping changes to pregnancy parental leave provisions to correct errors that resulted from previous changes to these provisions:
    • amend pregnancy leave to start no sooner than 15 weeks before the delivery date (and end no sooner than 1 week after delivery — for a total of 16 weeks); and
    • create an exception to the requirement to give the employer 4 weeks’ notice of taking pregnancy/parental leave when the employee has not been employed for at least 4 weeks.

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Atlantic Canada, at

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