The next B.C. provincial election will be held on May 14, 2013.
The British Columbia Election Act imposes certain
obligations on employers to ensure that employees have sufficient
time free from work to exercise their constitutional right to
Time Off For Voting
The B.C. Election Act states in section 74 that an
employer must ensure that each employee eligible to vote has four
consecutive hours off from work in which to vote. This
does not mean the employee is entitled to four hours off from work,
but rather that the employee must have a four hour period in which
he or she is not scheduled to be at work during voting hours.
Time off can be at the beginning of a shift, the middle of a
shift, the end of a shift, or not be necessary at all if the
employee's normal working hours already provide the required
time off from work. For example, if an employee is normally
scheduled to work from 8:30 to 4:30, the employer is required to
either let the employee start work at noon, give the employee a
four hour break in the middle of the day or let the employee leave
work early at 4:00 instead of 4:30. If the employee's shift
normally ends at 4:00 or earlier, or does not start until noon or
later, then the employee is not entitled to any time off.
It is up to the employer to decide when their employees can most
conveniently take time off from work to vote.
There are also some exceptions to the obligation to allow the
employee to take time off. For example, if the voter is in such a
remote location that he or she would not reasonably be able to
reach a voting place during voting hours, the employee is not
entitled to any time off.
When are polling stations open on election day
Polling stations are open on May 14, 2013 for voting from 8:00
am until 8:00 pm Pacific Time.
No reduction in employee pay
An employee's pay cannot be deducted or reduced for time off
provided for the employee to vote, nor can the employee be
otherwise penalized for exercising his or her rights. Employees is
entitled to their regular pay for their regular working hours not
worked while voting.
If you are a unionized employer, check your Collective Agreement
as it may have specific provisions applicable to your workplace, on
top of your obligations to employees under the Election
The failure by an employer to comply with section 74 of the B.C.
Election Act is an offence and upon conviction an employer
is subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 or a term of imprisonment
of not more than one year, or both.
The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are
cautioned against making any decisions based on this material
alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).