Employee Time Off to Vote in the Upcoming Federal Election

Canadians head for the polls in the federal election on Monday, October 19, 2015.  The Canada Elections Act provides that with the exception of certain employees in the transportation sector, every employee who is an elector is entitled to have three consecutive hours away from work during voting hours for the purpose of casting his or her vote. In most cases, this will not be an issue, since work schedules will already result in an employee having three consecutive hours off during voting hours.  If, however, an employee’s schedule at work is such that he or she does not already have three consecutive hours off to vote, the employer must, at a time chosen by the employer, allow each employee time off such that the employee has three consecutive hours free from work during voting hours.  Employers cannot make a deduction from the pay of an employee, or impose a penalty, for the time that the employer allows the employee to vote.

For example, if the voting hours in the riding are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and the employee usually works from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the hours of work will not allow for three consecutive hours for voting. To give the employee three consecutive hours to vote, the employer could allow the employee to arrive late (at 12:30 p.m.), let the employee leave early (at 6:30 p.m.), or give the employee three hours off at some point during the work day.  Notwithstanding the time off, the employee must still receive the full pay for the regular shift.

Polls are open for twelve hours on election day but voting hours vary across Canada. For more information, please visit: http://www.elections.ca/home.aspx.

Matthew Curtis

About Matthew Curtis

Matthew Curtis is a partner in Dentons Canada LLP’s Employment and Labour Group. He advises Canadian and international organizations on a variety of labour and employment matters.

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