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Employer Obligations on Election Day: You Don’t Get to Decide

Employment Standards | Policies and Procedures

As we approach the federal elections, it is important that employers understand their obligations and employees understand their rights when it comes to voting. 

We all lead busy lives, and it may seem hard to find time to cast your ballot. I will probably be juggling work, travel, Hockey Dad and Dance Dad obligations, on top of whatever comes up. But it is important to make the effort, and employers have some obligations to make it easier for their workers to do their civic duty.

The starting point is that employers must provide their employees with three consecutive hours off work in order to vote.

That means that Canadian citizens that are 18 years of age or older are entitled to three consecutive hours off work while polls are open. This must be provided without loss of pay.

It is important to remember that employees cannot simply decide when they will take the time; the employer is entitled to determine when the three hours will be provided, so long as it is three consecutive hours during which the polls are open. Those three hours can be provided before the employee’s usual starting time, after their usual ending time, or by allowing them to come in late or leave early. 

This does not mean that everyone gets three hours off. Many people will have three voting hours available outside of their regular working hours. For example, if the polls are open between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and an individual works an 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift, then they do not need additional time off.

To find out the voting hours in your time zone, click here.

Employers should be aware that if they fail to provide the three consecutive hours or they deduct money from an employee’s wages, they can be fined up to $2,000. Jail time is also theoretically possible though unlikely.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations about elections or anything else, feel free to contact the team at Rudner Law.

As a final word, no matter who you vote for, I encourage everyone who is eligible to do so to get out and vote. That is not only your right, but your obligation. 

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