Nova Scotia Introduces COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program

On May 12, 2021, the Nova Scotia Government announced that it will be launching the COVID-19 Sick Leave Program which will provide eligible employees with up to four (4) paid sick days and will reimburse eligible employers that provide paid sick leave to employees. Employers will be eligible to apply for reimbursement effective on May 26, 2021. In the Q&A below, we will explain the details of the forthcoming program.

How many sick days are available?
  • Nova Scotians who must take time off work due to COVID-19 may now qualify for up to four paid sick days under Nova Scotia’s new COVID-19 Sick Leave Program.
  • The sick days do not have to be taken consecutively. Any sick days taken between May 10, 2021, and July 31, 2021, may be eligible for the program.
Who is eligible for the program?
  • People who cannot work remotely and miss less than 50 per cent of their scheduled work time in a one-week period due to COVID-19 may be eligible.
    • This includes those who need to take time off because they are awaiting a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test appointment, and those who are getting tested, are self-isolating while awaiting test results, or are going to get vaccinated.
  • Employers can apply for reimbursement for an employee’s sick days if they:
    • are a for-profit business or not-for-profit organization;
    • have a permanent physical location in Nova Scotia;
    • are registered to do business in Nova Scotia;
    • are in good standing with the Government of Nova Scotia (not in default of any financial obligations like loan repayments, taxes, fines, fees and administrative and court orders); and
    • are paying Nova Scotia-based employees who don’t qualify for paid sick leave under their employment agreement and aren’t receiving benefits from other COVID-19 programs.
  • Self-employed people can apply if they:
    • are actively earning income from the business as their primary source of income;
    • are registered to do business in Nova Scotia (if applicable);
    • have declared business income on their most recent tax return;
    • have lost income because they missed time at work;
    • are in good standing with the Government of Nova Scotia (not in default of any financial obligations like loan repayments, taxes, fines, fees and administrative and court orders); and
    • aren’t eligible for or receiving other income support (like Business Interruption Insurance, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit or any other income replacement or insurance programs).
How Much Will the Program Cost? 
  • The program is estimated to cost $16 million program.
  • The program covers employee wages, including wages of self-employed people, up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 per day.
    • The maximum payment over the 12-week period is $640 per worker.
  • The program compensates wages and salaries for eligible employees and self-employed people.
    • It doesn’t cover other payroll expenses like Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions.
Who is Paying the Employees for Paid Leave?
  • Eligible businesses that continue to pay their employees during their leave will be eligible to be reimbursed by the program.
  • The program complements the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), which may apply after an employee has been off for 50 per cent or more of their scheduled work week.
How do you apply?
  • The Nova Scotia Co-operative Council will administer the program on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia.
  • The program will be retroactive to May 10, 2021.
  • Applications open on May 26, 2021.

More information on the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Sick Leave Program can be found here

We will continue to update our clients with information as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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