The next Canadian federal election will be held on Monday,
October 19, 2015. The Canada Elections 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 Canada Elections Act states that an employer must
ensure that each employee eligible to vote has three consecutive
hours off from work in which to vote. This does not mean the
employee is entitled to three hours off from work, but
rather that the employee must have a three 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. Voting hours are different across the country
and so the voting hours and hours of work must be analyzed time
zone by time zone. For example, if an employee lives in a riding
where voting hours are 7:30 am to 7:30 pm and the employee is
normally scheduled to work from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, the employee is
not entitled to any time off work as the employee already has the
required three hours free for voting. If the employee normally
works from 10:00 to 6:00 pm, then the employer is required to let
the employee start work later (after 10:30 am), give the employee a
three hour break in the middle of the day or let the employee leave
work early (at 4:30 pm) to ensure there is the required three hour
period free from work.
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 works in the
transportation industry different rules apply. For these employers,
the obligation to provide three consecutive hours off to vote does
not apply if these four conditions are met:
the employer is a company that
transports goods or passengers by land, air or water
the employee is employed outside his
or her polling division
the employee is employed in the
operation of a means of transportation, and
the time off cannot be allowed
without interfering with the transportation service
When are Polling Stations Open on Election Day
Polling stations are open on October 19, 2015 for voting as
Voting hours at polling places for each time zone across
Voting hours (local time)
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
* In Saskatchewan, when daylight saving time is in effect
for the rest of the country, voting hours are from 7:30 a.m. to
7:30 p.m. (local 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 are
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 Elections
The failure by an employer to comply with Canada Elections
Act is an offence and upon conviction an employer is subject
to a penalty of up to $2,000 or a term of imprisonment of not more
than three months, or both.
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
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.
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.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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