On Monday, September 20, Canadian voters will cast their ballots in the federal election. In Quebec, polling stations will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. In other parts of the country, the opening hours may vary slightly.
It is important to note that under the Canada Elections Act, every employee who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to vote during voting hours on election day. If the employee's work schedule does not allow for those three consecutive hours, the employer must provide this time. The hours may be granted at the employer's convenience.
Other options are available to avoid line-ups on Election Day, such as advance polls or voting by mail. However, an employer cannot force employees to take advantage of these options rather than vote on Election Day.
For example, if an employee is scheduled to work from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on September 20, the employer must give the employee three consecutive hours to vote. Conversely, if the employee's schedule is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the employer would not have to give the employee any time, as the employee would have three consecutive hours to vote after their workday.
Employers are also prohibited from making deductions from employees' wages or imposing penalties during the time allotted for voting. Accordingly, any time allowed for eligible employees to vote is with pay.
The Elections Act further provides that employers may not, by intimidation, undue influence or any other means, prevent their employees who are eligible to vote from having three consecutive hours to do so.
Finally, it is important to note that politics generally tends to arouse strong passions. For this reason, an astute employer will refrain from making comments that employees could perceive as an attempt to influence their vote. Legal proceedings have already been instituted against employers, particularly for psychological harassment, following political discussions or debates in the workplace. Caution is therefore advised.
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.