As Albertans go to the polls today, questions often arise about the rights of employees to have time off work to cast their votes and whether they are to be paid for their time off work when doing so.

Alberta’s Elections Act allows an employee who is eligible to vote, three paid consecutive hours off work for voting. However, not every employee will be entitled to time off work. Time off from work for voting depends on whether or not the employee has three hours within which to vote during their day, depending on their hours of work and the time the polls are open. Election Day polls are open from 9 am to 8 pm. For example, if the employee works from 9 am to 5 pm, the employer is not required to provide any additional time off work as the employee would have three consecutive hours (5 pm to 8 pm) within which to vote. Therefore, unfortunately for employees, Election Day doesn’t mean that you automatically get to leave work three hours early or take an extended three hour lunch. However, if the employee works 9 am to 6 pm then the employer would be required to allow them to leave an hour early.

To be eligible to vote, an employee must reside in the polling subdivision in which the employee is voting and must a Canadian citizen, be at least eighteen years old and be ordinarily resident in Alberta for six months prior to the polling day.

As far as pay is concerned, if the employee does require time off to vote, the employer cannot make deductions from the employee’s pay, require the employee to take a vacation day or sick day, or otherwise impose any penalty for the time taken off work.