With the next provincial election scheduled for June 12, 2014,
we are writing to remind employers of their obligations under the
Ontario Election Act.
By law, an employee who is eligible to vote must have three
consecutive hours for the purpose of casting his or her vote.
If an employee's hours of work do not allow for those three
consecutive hours, the employer, upon request, must allow the
employee enough time off to provide those three consecutive hours
The voting hours on election day will be from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00
p.m. local time. Employers have the right to decide when
during the day is most convenient for granting any necessary time
off. Employees are not entitled to demand which hours they
wish to be away from work.
For example, if an employee is scheduled to work from 10:00 a.m.
to 6:30 p.m., an employer could provide for the three consecutive
hours by allowing the employee to leave work a half hour early, at
6:00 p.m. In this example, the employer is acting in
accordance with the law while at the same time ensuring that the
time off results in minimal disruption to the employee's
regular work day. It is also important to note that employers
are not required to take into account an employee's travel time
Employers may not make deductions from an employee's pay,
require the employee to take a vacation day or sick day, or
otherwise impose any penalty for the time taken off work by an
employee to vote.
The Election Act also provides for unpaid,
job protected leave for employees who wish to serve as returning
officers or poll officials. The Act does
not limit the duration of such leave but does state that any
employees seeking such a leave must make their request at least
seven days before the leave is to begin.
The penalty for preventing an employee from voting, impeding or
otherwise interfering with an employee's right to vote is a
fine of up to $5,000. If an employer is convicted of this
offence and a judge finds that the offence was committed knowingly,
the employer will be liable to either a fine of up to $25,000 or
imprisonment up to two years less a day or both.
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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