As we get set to go to the polls to vote for our municipal
leaders on October 27, 2014, employers should keep in mind their
obligations under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 as
they relate to ensuring employees have adequate time off to
Under the Act, employees who are eligible to vote
(Canadian citizens, 18 years of age or older who meet
residency/property ownership or tenancy requirements) must be given
three (3) consecutive hours off of work for the
purpose of voting. This year, voting hours on Election Day
will be from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. In circumstances
where an employee's hours of work do not allow for three (3)
consecutive hours to vote within the 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
window, they will be entitled to paid time off of
work. It is important to note that employers cannot make any
deductions or impose any penalty on an employee that wishes to
vote. For example, an employer cannot require an
employee to take a vacation day or a sick day in order to exercise
their right to vote. The following examples help
illustrate an employer's obligations on Election Day:
An 18 year old resident of Brampton normally works from 10:00
a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Her hours of work would not allow her three
(3) consecutive hours to vote. To provide the employee with her
three (3) consecutive hours the employer could allow her to arrive
late (at 1:00 p.m.), let her leave early (at 5:00 p.m.) or give her
three (3) hours off at some point during the work day. The employer
is entitled to choose any of the above arrangements but no matter
the selection the employee will be entitled to the full pay she
would regularly receive for her 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
A 45 year old resident of the City of Toronto is entitled to
vote and has voting hours between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If the
Toronto resident works from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. his hours of
work would leave him 3.0 hours after his working day in which he
could cast a vote before polls close. Since this worker has at
least three (3) consecutive hours outside of work to vote the
employer has no obligation to provide him with time off work to
Should an employer impede or interfere with an employee's
right to vote, a fine of up to $50,000 can be imposed.
While employees are entitled to three consecutive hours off of
work, they are not entitled to demand which hours they wish to be
away from work. Employers have the discretion to determine
this based on the operational requirements of the workplace.
To avoid being inundated with requests for time off to vote from
employees, employers are encouraged to take this into consideration
when scheduling their hours of work on October 27, 2014.
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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