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New laws impact Nova Scotia automotive industry

The Fall Sitting of the Nova Scotia Provincial Legislature has resulted in several new pieces of legislation that will affect the Industry and all employers should be aware of these changes. The Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act specifies that eight days during the year are now holidays and most businesses are required to close. These days are New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. All the paid holidays include New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas.

Remembrance Day has different closing rules and for the most part, retail businesses are required to close. However, automotive industry businesses allowed to open include:

  • Retail Gasoline Outlets
  • Retail businesses providing goods or services on an emergency basis

On December 17, 2007, Cabinet approved regulations, which harmonize the Compassionate Care Leave with the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit. Effective January 17, 2008, under the Labour Standards Code, an employee who has worked for a business for at least three months and who needs to take care of a seriously ill family member who has a high risk of dying within 26 weeks, can take an eight week Compassionate Care Leave.  The Leave is unpaid but the employee may qualify for a six week Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit.

For more information go to www.gov.ns.ca/enla/employmentrights/ or call Labour Standards Division at 1-888-315-0110. Effective April 1, 2008, Violence in the Workplace Regulations come into effect for the Retail Gas Industry. Violence in the Workplace, especially for gasoline retailers, is an indisputable reality with ever increasing reports of drive offs, robberies and assaults.

Bridgetown Esso
Bridgetown Esso

Regulations are intended to help remind all employers to ensure procedures, training and safety measures are in place to protect workers who work alone or are at risk of violence, whether late at night or in the daytime.

The NS Department of Environment and Labour, in collaboration with the RGDA, has developed a Violence Risk Assessment along with a Code of Practice for the Retail Gas Industry. As a further assist, the Department has recently hired four Compliance Promotion Specialists to meet with retailers, offering and providing support, guidance and advice as needed. The Compliance Promotion Specialists are Richard Wentzell, Shawn Foley, Jamie Fraser and John MacMillan.  Richard Wentzell will cover Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby, Annapolis and Kings Counties.

Shawn Foley will work Halifax and Hants counties.  Jamie Fraser is responsible for Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough.  John MacMillan will work Cape Breton. Retailers who may be interested in receiving more details on these upcoming legislative requirements can contact the RGDA office at 1-877-860-3805. While it is not a requirement to utilize the Violence Risk Assessment and/or Code of Practice made available by the Department of Environment and Labour, all retailers are required to perform an onsite assessment and establish a Code of Practice that meets with government approval and provides an equivalent level of safety.

RGDA of NS Executive Director Graham Conrad commented that “these guidelines  established with Industry input are realistic and functional, and should help strengthen our focus and attitudes towards protecting our employees against Violence in the Workplace.”

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