It is hard to believe but September is now upon us. Not only does this mean it is back to school for Ontario students, but that Ontario voters will go back to polls shortly. Throughout the month of September candidates across Ontario will be busily campaigning in advance of the October 6, 2011 general provincial election. Individuals, who are 18 years of age or older, are Canadian citizens and reside in an electoral district in the province, will be entitled to cast their ballot. Below is some key information for employers to keep in mind in advance of election day.

Employees entitled to three hours to vote

On election day, the polls (in most of the Province) will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Employees are entitled to three consecutive hours while the polls are open for the purpose of voting. If an employee’s hours of employment do not allow for these three consecutive hours, an employee may request this time off for voting. An employer is required to grant such a request, without any reduction in the employee’s pay.

Employers entitled to select the most convenient time

Despite employee’s entitlement to time-off (if necessary) an employee may not depart work at any time to go cast his or her vote. The Election Act specifies that time off for voting is to be granted at the time of day most convenient for the employer.

Employees entitled to leave for election duties

The Election Act also specifies that an individual participating in the election as an election official is entitled to time off to perform the role. An employee requesting leave under these provisions must make a request for the leave at least seven days prior to when the leave is to commence. An employer is not required to pay the employee during this period of leave, however, the leave cannot be subtracted from any vacation entitlement.