Labour Day- a paid holiday for some

This updated article was first published on September 4, 2021 — Thanks to the late Robert Devet of the

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Despite Labour Day (Monday, Sept. 5) being a public holiday, and a retail store closing day in Nova Scotia – grocery stores are only permitted to open if they are smaller than 4,000 square feet. This means Sobeys, Costco, Superstore, shopping malls, and most other businesses and offices must close on Monday. Allowed to remain open are flea markets, confectionary shops, fish stores, laundromats, pool halls, and even used clothing stores, according to the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act. Of course gas stations, hotels, restaurants and bars, and tourist operations are welcome to stay open.

But what about pay? In Nova Scotia, Labour Day is one of the paltry  six paid holidays in the year. NS is tied for the lowest number of paid public holidays in Canada. If your workplace is closed that day, or you do not work that day, you are entitled to a day off with pay.

To qualify for the day off with pay you need to have worked 15 of the last 30 days, AND your last scheduled shift before the holiday, and your first scheduled shift after the holiday.

Of course so many employers keep staff on part time hours, that it’s sometimes hard to figure out if you qualify.  

If your regular day off is Monday, then – if you qualify – you get another day off with pay, which substitutes for the Labour Day holiday.

If you qualify for the paid day off, but you have to work on Labour Day, you are entitled to your normal day’s pay, plus time and a half for the hours you work.  Some people call this double time and a half – but it is more complicated.

If you must work on Labour Day…

If you normally work 8 hours at $14/hr, (note: minimum wage in NS is now $13.35 per hour) you get $112.  On Labour Day, if you have to work only 5 hours, that works out to 5 x $14 =  $70, plus half again as much $35.00. So if you do work Labour Day and you qualify for the holiday pay, and you only work 5 hours – you’d earn $112 + $70 + $35 =  $217.00.

If a union represents you, you’ll certainly get paid for the holiday, and under your collective agreement, there will be better terms/conditions if you have to work that day.  

Featured image: Labour Day Parade on Yonge Street in Toronto c. 1900 (credit: City of Toronto Archives/Fond1568)

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, an organization that fights discrimination, bullying and racism in the workplace.  Contact her at

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