Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Increases: Everything You Need to Know

As always, to make sure your business is prepared and stays in compliance, we recommend that you discuss these upcoming changes to the Nova Scotia minimum wage with your accountant and lawyer. This article does not constitute legal advice.

What is the minimum wage in Nova Scotia for 2023?

As of October 1, 2023, Nova Scotia’s general minimum wage is $15/hour, currently $1.55 less than the federal minimum wage.

Most employees in Nova Scotia must be paid the provincial minimum wage. However, there are exceptions and other considerations. For instance, employees who meet the following criteria (not an exhaustive list) are exempt from minimum wage regulations:

  • Domestic workers employed in private homes
  • Youth aged 16 years or younger employed on a farm
  • Apprentices engaged in an apprenticeship agreement
  • Insurance agents
  • Sales positions, such as real estate, automobile, or commissioned salespeople

Nova Scotia’s minimum wage requirements are quite lengthy and technical. If you have questions and want to ensure you’re applying minimum wage requirements appropriately, you can contact the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Division via email or call toll-free (888) 315-0110.

Note: Federal minimum wage only applies to employees working in industries regulated by the government, such as banking and transportation. Provinces handle business licensing and set the general minimum wage for all other industries.

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Is the minimum wage going up in Nova Scotia?

Beginning in April 2025, the province’s hourly minimum wage will be adjusted based on the percentage change of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) compared with the preceding year plus 1%. All minimum wage adjustments based on this formula will be rounded up or down to the closest $0.05.

How should small business owners prepare for changes?

Minimum wage increases are great news for employees but not necessarily for business owners. If you’re worried about how upcoming changes might affect your business finances:

  • Audit your expenses: Check your cash flow in detail to ensure you avoid common business mistakes and create a hiring plan that you can afford. In some cases, you may find that hiring temporary workers as needed is less expensive than taking on full-time regular staff.

  • Make sure you hire and keep the right employees: Replacing an employee costs a lot. You decrease the total cost associated with recruiting by retaining valuable employees. Look for candidates who have good track records, come recommended, and fit in with the company culture. Once they’re onboarded, make sure you build a relationship and provide paths for your employees to grow and thrive; it makes it more likely they’ll stay in their roles.

  • Increase prices: Increasing prices is a great way to boost your cash flow. According to Square’s 2023 Future of Retail report, given the current economic climate, 88% of consumers say they’d understand if their favourite local business raised its prices.

  • Update tech: Consider automating certain aspects of the work and find ways to reduce production costs. Investing in small business team management software can help free up your time, better schedule your employees, and, best of all, is easy to learn.

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