A provincial election is scheduled to take place in British
Columbia on May 14th 2013. Employers in the province should be
mindful of their obligation to ensure that employees are afforded
sufficient time off from work to cast their ballots.
The British Columbia Election Act entitles persons to
four consecutive hours – between the hours
of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm – to
exercise their voting rights on election day.
What does this mean for employers?
It is important to note that this entitlement does not require an employer
to provide all their employees with four hours off work. It is
only in situations where an employee's schedule does
not allow for four consecutive hours free from work that a
modification to the work schedule is required. For example,
employees who are not scheduled to commence work until 12:00 pm (or
later) and employees who are scheduled to finish work at 4:00 pm
(or earlier) will not require any time off to vote.
A number of my employees will require time off to vote.
Do I have flexibility in how I modify their schedules to
Yes. Employers have the discretion to modify an employee’s
schedule in a manner that is most convenient. The employer can
schedule time off for voting at the beginning of a shift, in the
middle of a shift or at the end of a shift.
Am I obligated to give all of my employees this time
off to vote?
No – there are some exceptions to the requirement. For
example, if the voter is in such a remote location that he or she
would not reasonably be able to reach a polling station during
voting hours, then the employee is not entitled to any time
Are employees entitled to be paid if they take this
Yes – an employee who is given time off in these
circumstances is entitled to all regular wages in respect of time
off work in order to vote. To use an example, if an employee
is scheduled to work from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, he or she may be
allowed to leave work at 4:00 pm on election day in order to ensure
four consecutive hours to cast a ballot. Despite having left
work early, the employee is entitled to wages for their full shift
in this scenario.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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