EMPLOYEE VOTING RIGHTS ON ELECTION DAY
(Monday, October 19)
Neil Curtis (NCHR): Employees across Canada will be lining up to cast their vote in the upcoming federal election on October 19, and employers should be aware of their obligation to this process.
Specifically, all employees are entitled to have three consecutive hours off work while the polling stations are open to be able to cast their votes. Polling stations on election day are open for 12 hours.
When an employee’s working hours do not offer three consecutive hours off to vote, the employer must grant the employee additional time off to provide three consecutive hours. Moreover, the Canada Elections Act indicates that employers are not permitted to make any pay deductions or impose any penalty to employees as a result of being absent from work in order to vote.
For example, an employee who is scheduled to work from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on October 19 would have to leave work at 5:00 pm, or an hour early, in order to be assured of the three-hour window to vote (assuming the polls close at 8:00 pm). In this case, and in alignment with the Canada Elections Act, the employer will be required to compensate the employee for the one hour of missed work time.
On the other hand, if an employee is scheduled to work from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm there is no obligation for the employer to permit the employee to leave work early, or to pay the employee for doing so. Since there are more than three consecutive hours available after their shift, the employee has time to vote.
NOTE: Employers who violate the Canada Elections Actcan face fines of up to $2,000, and/or up to three months imprisonment.