On Monday, October 19, 2015, Canadian citizens are to vote in the federal election. Eligible voters will have a 12-hour period within which to cast their ballots, i.e. from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
When election time comes, many employers wonder about the extent of their obligations towards their employees. Do they have to allow them a certain amount of time within which to exercise their right to vote? Will the time allowed them be remunerated? Allow us to clarify the situation for you.
Under the Canada Elections Act1, every employee eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to vote during voting hours on Election Day, i.e. this coming October 19th. If the employee’s work schedule does not afford him or her the required three consecutive hours, the employer is obliged to grant the employee that amount of time2. The period comprising those consecutive hours is at the employer’s discretion.
By way of example, if an employee’s hours of work on October 19, 2015 are from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., the employer will be obliged to grant him or her the time necessary such that the employee has three consecutive hours within which to vote. On the other hand, if the employee’s work schedule is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the employer will not have to grant him or her any amount of time, as the employee will already have three consecutive hours to go out and vote after his or her workday is over.
It should be noted as well that employers are prohibited from deducting any amount from their employees’ pay or imposing any kind of penalty on account of the period granted them to exercise their right to vote. Thus, any time allowed to employees who are eligible to vote must be remunerated.
The Elections Act also prohibits employers from interfering, through intimidation, undue influence or any other means, with the granting to an employee of three consecutive hours for voting.