With election day just around the corner, we thought it would be
appropriate to provide an overview of employer obligations
regarding time for voting.
The Canada Elections Act (the "Act") governs
an employer's obligations with respect to allowing time to vote
to employees in the upcoming federal election. Generally, a
Canadian citizen who is 18 years of age or older is qualified as an
elector and entitled to vote. Every employee who is an elector is
entitled to three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting his
or her vote during voting hours on polling day. If the
employee's hours of work do not allow for three consecutive
hours, then the employer shall allow the employee to have the time
for voting that is necessary in order to provide those three
consecutive hours. The time that the employer shall allow for
voting is at the employer's convenience.
For example, if voting hours on polling day are from 9:30 am to
9:30 pm, and an employee's hours of work for the day are 9 am
to 5 pm, then that employee has more than three consecutive hours
to vote after the end of his or her work day. In this case, the
employer is not generally required to provide time for voting. On
the other hand, if the employee's hours of work are from 10 am
to 7 pm, then the employer must provide the employee with time so
that the employee has three consecutive hours in which to
Employers are prohibited from:
deducting any amounts from the employee's pay for the time
that the employer shall allow for voting;
imposing a penalty for the time that the employer shall allow
for voting; or
interfering by intimidation, undue influence or by any other
means with the granting to an elector in their employ of the three
consecutive hours for voting.
If an employer pays the employee less than the amount that the
employee would have earned on polling day had the employee
continued to work during the time that the employer allowed for
voting, then the employer is deemed to have made a deduction from
the pay of the employee, regardless of the basis on which the
employee is paid.
A failure to comply with the requirements of the Act may result
in significant fines and even imprisonment.
Finally, it should be noted that the Act provides certain
exemptions for employees in transportation companies.
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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