Time To Vote: Employer Obligations On Election Day

Author:Ms Kristin Taylor
Profession:Cassels Brock
 
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A federal election has been called for October 21, 2019. With the vote just a few weeks away, employers should be aware of their legal obligations on Election Day.

Eligible Employees

The Canada Elections Act (the Act) provides that every employee who is an elector is entitled to three consecutive hours off from work to vote during polling hours. To qualify as an elector the employee must, on polling day, be a Canadian citizen who is 18 years of age or older.

Time Off to Vote

The right to time off in the Act does not necessarily mean that employees are entitled to extra time off from work on Election Day. If an employee's normal work schedule already provides three consecutive hours off during polling hours, the employer will not have to make any scheduling adjustments. Where an employee's normal work schedule does not, however, then the employer must adjust the work schedule to accommodate the voting time requirement.

Polling hours across Canada can be found here. In Ontario, for instance, polling stations will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. If an Ontario employee normally works from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the employer will not have to provide the employee with time off to vote on Election Day as the polls in Ontario are open for more than three hours after the employee finishes work. Conversely, if an Ontario employee normally works from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the employer must provide the employee with time off to satisfy its legal obligations.

Time Off at Employer's Convenience

When a work schedule adjustment is needed, the employer is entitled to determine at its convenience which hours will be used to provide the employee with time off for voting. Employees may be released at the beginning, during, or at the end of their work days. In the second scenario above, for...

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