On September 4th, Quebec voters will be going to the polls to elect their next government. Voting is not only a civic duty, it is also a right that an employer must respect.

The Election Act, RSQ, c E-3.3, provides that all employers shall ensure that their employees have at least four consecutive hours free to vote on election day while the polling stations are open, without taking into account the time normally allowed for meals. If it is impossible for an employee to have four consecutive hours due to his work schedule, the employer must grant the employee a leave of absence so that he can benefit from the period required by the Act. To this end, the employer determines the time of day when the leave of absent will be granted.

On election day, because the polling stations are open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., employees that work on a regular schedule from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. should be given a leave of absence at 4:00 p.m. so that they have four consecutive hours to vote.

If we take the example of an employee who works from 11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m., the employer can allow him to start work at 1:30 p.m. or allow him to leave at 4:00 p.m. 

No deduction of wages or penalty may be imposed to an employee that takes a leave of absence to exercise his right to vote. An employee who believes he has been the victim of a prohibited practice concerning his right to vote can file a complaint with the "Commission des normes du travail" which can result, for a corporate entity, in a fine of $5,000 to $30,000 for a first offence or of $20,000 to $60,000 for any subsequent offence within 10 years.