Employment law deals with the relationship between employers and their employees.  Employment law includes statutes, workplace contracts or policies, and common law (court cases).

Labour standards laws set minimum standards for employment, such as hours of work, minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation and holiday pay, severance pay and employment of youth. They also provide a way for employees to recover wages owed and to make complaints about employment practices. Most workplaces are provincially regulated, which means a law called the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code applies to them. Some workplaces are federally regulated, in those workplaces a law called the Canada Labour Code applies. These federal and provincial labour codes apply to full-time, part-time, and casual employees.

Nova Scotia's Labour Standards Division, Department of Labour and Advanced Education, enforces the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code. The federal government's Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada, enforces the Canada Labour Code. 

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and Canadian Human Rights Act provide protection against job-related discrimination. They are enforced by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission respectively.

There are also laws that set out rules for health and safety in the workplace.  Contact Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety for more information, or call 1-800 952-2687 or 902-424-5400.

Your employment contract or collective agreement may provide additional terms or benefits, and your employer may have a personnel policy that deals with other terms of employment.

Finally, the common law applies to all non-unionized employees and, in some cases, may provide greater protection than the statutory labour codes. Common law, also called case law, includes rules made by judges before there were statutes, and court rulings by judges about what the statutes mean.

 Last reviewed: December 2022