Skip to content

Nova Scotia to limit medical notes for employee absences

This article was updated on April 19, 2023.

By Mark Tector and Ben Currie

On April 12, 2023 Bill 256: Patient Access to Care Act received Royal Assent. Schedule B of the Bill is the Medical Certificates for Employee Absence Act (“Act”), which will take effect on July 1, 2023. The Act prevents a provincially regulated employer in Nova Scotia from requesting a certificate (i.e. medical note) from an employee related to the employee’s absence from work due to sickness or injury unless one of the following conditions are met:

  1. The absence continues for more than five consecutive working days; or
  2. The employee has had at least two non-consecutive absences of five or fewer working days due to sickness or injury in the prior 12-months.

Despite the name of the Act, the certificate can come from a “qualified health professional” who is providing a diagnosis, treatment or care to the employee with respect to the illness or injury causing the employee’s absence. This includes not only physicians, but any person who holds a license to practice a regulated health profession in Nova Scotia. The qualified health professional must be acting within their scope of practice when issuing the certificate.

Nova Scotia joins the remaining Atlantic provinces, which, through employment standards legislation, restrict the ability of provincially regulated employers from requesting a certificate as follows:

  • New Brunswick: If the employee’s absence is four or more consecutive days, the employer can request a certificate from a physician, nurse practitioner, or midwife.
  • Prince Edward Island: If the employee’s absence is three or more consecutive days, the employer can request a certificate from a physician.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: If the employee’s absence is three or more consecutive days, the employee shall provide a certificate from a physician or nurse practitioner. This puts the obligation on the employee; however, practically employers may choose to waive the requirement depending on the circumstances.

Nova Scotia’s proposed Act differs from the legislation in the remaining Atlantic provinces in two important ways:

  1. It allows for a second condition whereby the employer may request a certificate for two non-consecutive absences of five or fewer working days within the prior 12-months; and
  2. It allows any regulated health professional in Nova Scotia to issue the certificate, provided they are operating within their scope of practice and treating the employee. This is much broader than the other Atlantic provinces which require the certificate to come from a physician, and in some Atlantic provinces a nurse practitioner or midwife.

This client update is provided for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about the above, please contact a member of our Labour & Employment group.

Click here to subscribe to Stewart McKelvey Thought Leadership.



Search Archive


Navigating Canada’s economic sanctions against Russia

June 8, 2023

By Kim Walsh and Olivia Bungay Canadian sanctions targeting Russia in relation to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine were significantly expanded over the past year. The Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations impose sanctions on individuals…

Read More

Federal Government introduces amendments to expand the mandates of the two historic Atlantic Accord Acts to include offshore wind energy

June 1, 2023

David Randell, Sadira Jan, Robert Grant, K.C., Greg Moores, G. John Samms, and James Gamblin The recent tabling of federal legislation is an important step for offshore wind development in the offshore areas of Nova…

Read More

Newfoundland and Labrador adopts virtual Alternate Witnessing of Documents Act – for good this time!

June 1, 2023

By Joe Thorne and Megan Kieley Background During the COVID-19 public health emergency order in Newfoundland and Labrador, the government passed the Temporary Alternate Witnessing of Documents Act, which (as the name implies) temporarily permitted…

Read More

The great IP debate in Canada

May 31, 2023

By Daniela Bassan, K.C. Daniela Bassan, K.C. is a Partner and Practice Group Chair at the law firm of Stewart McKelvey (Canada) where she focuses on intellectual property and complex, multi-jurisdictional dispute resolution. The premise…

Read More

New Brunswick introduces prompt payment and adjudication legislation

May 24, 2023

By Conor O’Neil and Maria Cummings On May 9, 2023, two bills were introduced in the New Brunswick Legislature that could have material affects on the construction industry. Bills 41 and 42, of the current…

Read More

10 LMIA recruitment and advertising tips for employers looking to hire foreign workers

May 24, 2023

Author Sara Espinal Henao, an Immigration Lawyer in our Halifax office, will be speaking on a related panel, Labour Market Impact Assessments Overview and Current Trends, at the upcoming CBA Immigration Law Conference in Ottawa,…

Read More

Hiring Internationally in the Film & Television Industry: 5 Things you Should Know

May 23, 2023

Author Brendan Sheridan, an Immigration Lawyer in our Halifax Office, will be running a related webinar on May 30, 2023, Avoiding immigration bloopers: A webinar for the film & television industry, in partnership with Screen…

Read More

Whose information is it anyway? Implications of the York University decision on public and private sector privacy and confidentiality

May 19, 2023

Included in Discovery: Atlantic Education & the Law – Issue 12 By Charlotte Henderson Privacy and confidentiality requirements are some of the most important responsibilities of organizations today. An organization’s ability to properly manage information,…

Read More

Are Non-Disclosure Agreements on their way out?

May 15, 2023

Included in Discovery: Atlantic Education & the Law – Issue 12 By Hilary Newman & Jacob Zelman A non-disclosure agreement, or “NDA”, is a legal contract in which two or more persons agree to keep the…

Read More

The General Anti-Avoidance Rule: more changes coming in 2023

May 12, 2023

By Graham Haynes & Isaac McLellan  Introduction The Canadian federal budget was unveiled on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 (“Budget 2023”)1 , and proposes significant changes to the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (the “GAAR”) in Canadian tax…

Read More

Search Archive

Scroll To Top