With the upcoming elections, we thought it would be timely to
remind you of your obligations and employers with respect to
employees taking time off to vote.
The Canada Elections Act requires employers throughout
Canada to give their employees time off to vote in the upcoming
October 19, 2015 federal election.
Everyone eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to
cast their vote on Election Day. If an employee ' s hours of
work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote during the
electoral polling hours, the employer must give the employee time
off to vote. The employee must be paid his or her regular wage
during the time off for voting. Employers cannot require the
employee to use a vacation day and are also prohibited from
penalizing an employee in any way from taking time off to vote.
Two examples help illustrate when an employer is required to
give an employee time off to vote.
1. Time off Required
An employee resides in a riding that has voting hours from 9:30
am to 9:30 pm. The employee's shift is 11 am to 7 pm.
This employee does not have three consecutive hours off work to
vote when the polls are open because the employee is only off work
during polling hours for 1.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in
The employer, however, has the discretion to decide when the
time off will be given and can require the employee to take 30
minutes off work to vote during the last 30 minutes of the
employee's shift (rather than 1.5 hours off in the morning)
since that will be least disruptive to the employer.
2. Time off not Required
A different employee with the same employer and in the same
riding has a shift from 9 am to 5 pm.
This employee has more than three consecutive hours after work
to vote during polling hours. Accordingly, this employee does not
have to be provided with time off to vote during the work day.
Transportation Industry Exemption
An exemption applies if the employer is in the transportation
industry. For the exemption to apply all four of the below criteria
must be 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
The employee is employed in the operation of a means of
The time off cannot be allowed without interfering with the
Employers who fail to give employees time off to vote or fail to
pay employees as required by the Elections Act are in
breach of the Act. Employers could face a fine of up to $2,000,
three months imprisonment, or both for each violation of the
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