As most people are no doubt aware, Monday, October 21 is Election Day, and federal law requires employers across Canada to provide employees with paid time off to vote (unless an employee has already exercised the right to vote by casting an advance ballot).
Under the Canada Elections Act, employees who are 18 years of age or older and whose scheduled working hours conflict with voting hours must be given three consecutive hours during voting hours on Election Day in order to cast a vote (there are limited exceptions for employers that transport goods or passengers by air, land, or water). The paid time off can be given at a time of day convenient to the employer, either at the beginning, middle, or end of a shift.
Voting hours in Alberta on the 21st will be between 7:30 AM and 7:30 PM MST. The hours for voting vary across the country, based on the applicable time zones.
Importantly, employees (both hourly and salaried) are entitled to a full day’s pay notwithstanding the time off to vote. Employers are prohibited from making deductions due to an employee’s absence for voting purposes. Employers may, however, vary an employee’s shift so that they can work a full day before going to vote, subject to the requirements of any applicable collective agreement. An employer may, for example, require an employee to begin a shift early so that he or she has three full consecutive hours at the end of the shift to vote.
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.