With Canada's 42nd general election just around the corner,
it is important for employers to know their obligations with
respect to allowing employees time off to vote.
By law, all eligible voters must be allowed three consecutive
hours to cast their vote on election day if they request it. If an
employee's work schedule does not allow for three consecutive
hours to vote, an employer must provide that time off. The employer
has the right to decide when the time off will be given, and there
is no obligation to include additional time for travel to the
Employers are prohibited from imposing a penalty or deducting
pay from an employee who is taking time off to vote. An employee
must be paid what he or she would have earned during the time
allowed off for voting.
If an employer fails to meet its obligations set out above, the
maximum penalty is a fine of up to $2,000, three months'
imprisonment, or both.
The polls will be open from 7:30am - 7:30pm on election day
(October 19) in Alberta. If an employee is scheduled to work from
9:00am - 5:00pm, they will not have three consecutive hours to
Accordingly, if the employee requests time to vote, an employer
would have three options:
Allow the employee to leave early, at
Allow the employee to arrive late, at
Give the employee three consecutive
hours off to vote during the day.
Advance Polling Days
Advanced polls will be held on October 9, 10, 11, and 12 from
noon until 8:00pm. Employers may be able to reduce the number of
requests for time off on election day by circulating information
about the advanced polling dates. That being said, advising an
employee of the advanced polls does not relieve an employer of
their obligation to provide time off to vote on election day if it
An employer is not obligated to provide time off to vote on an
advanced polling day.
Exceptions for the Transportation Industry
For employers in the transportation industry, 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.
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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