Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a federal election for October 21, 2019. As Canadians prepare to head to the polls, employers should be aware of their Election Day obligations. Under the Canada Elections Act, employees who are eligible to vote must have at least three consecutive hours to cast their ballots on Election Day. While many employees have sufficient time to vote before or after work due to polling hours, those who do not must be granted voting time off at the employer's convenience.

For example, Ontario polling stations are currently scheduled to be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. As a result, an employee who is scheduled to work from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. will not have three consecutive hours to cast their ballot. In order to satisfy the statutory requirement, the employer could schedule the employee to work from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. or from 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Election Day. Alternatively, in this scenario, the employer could simply allow the employee to leave 30 minutes earlier than scheduled so that the employee has a three hour voting window from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is important to keep in mind that no deduction can be made from the employee's pay for such time off nor can any penalty be imposed for ​their absence from work to vote. In other words, the employee must be paid in full for ​their regular work day. The employer is also prohibited from using intimidation, undue influence, or other means to interfere with the employee's right to vote. Employers may wish to have written policies in place addressing the company's procedure for allocating voting time off.