Northwest Territories Minimum Wage 2021

Northwest Territories Minimum Wage 2021

Written by Bryan Daly
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated October 5, 2021

Minimum wage is the lowest amount an employer can legally pay an employee for their service. Its current regulations are important to maintain because they help combat poverty in Canada. That said, different minimum wage standards exist in every province and territory. Read this to learn about minimum wage rules in the Northwest Territories.

What Is Minimum Wage In The Northwest Territories?

On April 1st of 2018, the Northwest Territories’ minimum wage was set to $13.46 per hour, making it the 7th highest minimum wage in Canada. However, the territory’s minimum wage rate will rise to $15.20 hourly on September 1st of 2021, which marks a significant increase compared to some of the other provinces and territories.

How Is Minimum Wage Calculated In The Northwest Territories?

According to the Employment Standards Act and Regulation, the NWT’s minimum wages rates are adjusted by the Minister of Employment, Culture and Education (ECE). 

The process usually involves a review by the territory’s Minimum Wage Committee, who will consider any economic or social factors that are relevant at the time. During the review, the committee can also make minimum wage recommendations to the Minister of ECE. This process is done once every 2 years to maintain proper minimum wage standards for the benefit of NWT workers and employers. 

Find out if you qualify for the Canada Workers Benefit.

How Has Minimum Wage Changed In The Northwest Territories?

With the exception of some periods (1991 – 2003 & 2003 – 2010), minimum wage in the NWT has risen every 1 – 5 years since its present wage regulations were set in 1968:

YearHourly Minimum Wage Rate
1968$1.25
1970$1.50
1973$2.00
1974$2.50
1976$3.00
1980$3.50
1982$4.25
1986$5.00
1991$7.00
2003$8.25
2010$9.00
2011$10.00
2015$12.50
2018$13.46

As mentioned, the NWT’s current minimum wage will increase to $15.20 on September 1, 2021.

Minimum Wage Deductions In The Northwest Territories

Like every province and territory, there are specific deductions that an employer can and cannot make toward an employee’s wages:

What Can Be Deducted

Board/Meals: Under section 7 of the Employment Standards Act, an employer can deduct part of an employee’s wages if they provide the worker full or partial board. However, they can’t decrease the employee’s wages to under minimum wage during any pay period or by an amount that surpasses $0.65 per meal.

Living Quarters: Section 7 of the Act also states that an employer can deduct an employee’s wages if they supply the worker with some type of housing. Once again, the deduction can’t be below the territory’s current minimum wage rate for any pay period or be above $0.80 per day that the employee is living on-site. This applies whether or not:

  • The living quarters provided are temporary, permanent or self-contained.
  • The employer has general possession and custody over the living quarters. 

What Can’t Be Deducted

Clothing/Uniforms – Employers aren’t allowed to deduct wages for providing, maintaining or laundering any article of clothing required for the employee’s job.

Breakages/Shortages – Wages can’t be deducted if a worker causes accidental breakage to their employer’s property or for cash/inventory shortages.

Outstanding Debts – Wages can’t be deducted to cover an employee’s unpaid debts (rent, balances on charge accounts, etc.) unless the employer gets their permission. The employee must also receive a direct benefit from the deduction.

Other Non-Deductible Expenses:

  • Deductions that don’t benefit the employee directly
  • Poor quality or faulty workmanship
  • Repairs or losses (vehicles, tools, equipment, etc.) 
  • Incidents of theft (dine-and-dash, etc.) 
  • Business supplies
  • Interest or fees applied to cashing cheques or cash advances
  • Education costs that would only benefit the employer (unless it’s a requirement during the hiring process)

Are you looking for a job? Try using Jobboom.

Overtime Rates In The Northwest Territories

In the NWT, employees are eligible for overtime pay once they’ve surpassed the territory’s standard work-hour limit: 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. The current overtime rate is at least 1.5 times the employee’s normal hourly wage and is calculated on a daily and weekly basis. Here’s an example: 

An employee works 9 hours, even though their normal shift is 8 hours. This means they earn 8 hours of regular pay and 1 hour at an overtime rate of 1.5. Let’s say they work 5 days in a row, with one extra hour of overtime each day – therefore, a regular 40-hour week plus 5 total hours of overtime. The employee’s regular hourly rate is minimum wage ($13.46).

As such, the employee’s total overtime pay is calculated on the 6th day as:

  • $13.46 x 40 hours = $538.40 of regular pay
  • $20.19 ($13.46 x 1.5) x 5 hours =  $100.95 of overtime pay
  • $538.40 + $100.95 = $639.35 of total weekly pay

Exceptions To Overtime Pay Periods In NWT

If they get authorization from an Employment Standards Officer, an employer is allowed to apply for an Overtime Averaging Order to change their employees’ overtime payment term. For the Order to be considered valid, the employer must post it so that all affected employees can clearly understand its terms.

Additionally, regular overtime payment rules may not apply to employees who are in managerial positions, unless they work during statutory holidays. There are also different rules for employees who aren’t paid an hourly or other time-based wage. This includes workers who are paid per kilometer, per trip, by commission or by salary. 

Banking Overtime Hours

NWT employees can come to a written agreement with their employer to bank their overtime hours in exchange vacation time, rather than payment. Similar to overtime pay itself, time off is banked at a rate of 1.5 hours for every hour of overtime worked. The employee must then use their vacation hours within 3 months of receiving them. 

If the employee has time-off banked but their employment gets terminated, the employer can add the hours to their final paycheck instead. They can also request their regular overtime pay, rather than time-off and their employer must legally pay it out.

Find out the difference between working as an employee and working as a contractor.

Holiday Pay Rates In The Northwest Territories

According to the Employment Standards Act, the NWT have 10 statutory holidays:

  • Canada Day
  • Christmas Day 
  • First Monday in August
  • Good Friday
  • Labour Day
  • National Aboriginal Day
  • New Year’s Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • Thanksgiving Day 
  • Victoria Day  

Statutory Holiday Pay Rates In The NWT

If an employee qualifies for statutory holiday pay but isn’t working on the actual holiday, they are only eligible for a regular day’s wages. On the other hand, if they work on the holiday, their employer has to pay them time and a half (rate of 1.5) for every hour they work, along with an average day’s wages. 

If the employee works overtime during a week with a statutory holiday, their overtime rate will be added after they’ve completed more than 8 hours that day and 32 normal hours that week (although holiday pay is tallied up separately). The employer can also schedule the employee on the holiday and give them an alternate day off with pay.            

To qualify for statutory holiday pay, an employee must:

  • Work for their employer at least 30 days within 12 months of the holiday
  • Report to work on the day of the holiday if they are scheduled or called in
  • Report to work on their last scheduled day prior to the holiday
  • Report to work on their next schedule day after the holiday

An employee cannot qualify for statutory holiday pay if they are:

  • On pregnancy or parental leave 
  • A part-time worker that doesn’t meet the requirements above

Rules For Youth Working In The Northwest Territories

According to the Employment Standards Act and Regulation, there is no minimum age requirement to work in NWT. Under section 46 and 47, youths who are younger than 17 must obtain authorization from an Employment Standards Officer to work between 11 PM and 6 AM or when they’re supposed to be in school. However, exceptions are possible if the youth is participating in a work program as part of their curriculum.  

Employers also have to give the ESO evidence that their work isn’t harmful to the child’s health, education or morality. Plus, youths who are younger than 16 can’t be assigned specific positions, like forestry, construction or other potentially dangerous jobs. 

Minimum Wage Northwest Territories FAQs

Do I get vacation time as a minimum wage worker?

Yes, NWT employees are entitled to 2 weeks of vacation time, as well as a vacation pay rate of 4% after each year for the first 5 years that they work for the employer. Upon their 6th year of employment, vacation time increases to 3 weeks, with a pay rate of 6%. If the employee quits, gets fired or loses their job to a lay-off, their employer must pay out any vacation-based income they haven’t yet collected.  

Will I get compensation for being fired?

It depends on the circumstances of your termination. For instance, if an employee gets fired after they’ve worked 90 days or more and 25 hours a week or more, their employer must give them a written notice of termination or termination pay (instead of a notice of termination), unless they have a valid reason for the termination. If the employer follows the terms of Section 37 of the Employment Standards Act and 4.1 of the Employment Standards Regulation, they don’t have to give the worker a reason for the termination. Otherwise, an employee could be exempt from a notice of termination or termination pay in lieu of notice if they are: 
  • Fired for just cause
  • Temporarily laid-off for less than 45 consecutive days
  • Fired after declining an offer from their employer for fair alternative work
  • Working in the construction industry
  • Seasonally or intermittently employed for less than 180 days in a year
  • Employed for a particular term or task that they complete within 365 days    

Can my employer deduct wages if I damage property?

No. As mentioned, your employer cannot legally deduct wages from your paycheck if you cause any damage to their property while you’re working. 

Are You A Minimum Wage Worker In The Northwest Territories?

Whether you’re working for minimum wage or higher, it’s important to remember that you have rights. If your employer pays you less than the current minimum rate, docks your pay for illegal reasons or fires you without just cause, report them to the Education, Culture and Employment department of the Government of Northwest Territories.  


Rating of 5/5 based on 1 vote.

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and traveling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer. Bryan uses the BMO Cash Back Mastercard to earn cash back on everything from boring bill payments to exciting excursions. He is also a strong saver, holding both a TFSA and an RRSP account in order to prepare for his future while taking full advantage of tax benefits.

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