Employee Voting Rights in Canada

Employee Voting Rights in Canada

It’s federal election time! You may be wondering what your obligations are towards your employees during approaching election on October 21, 2019.

Employer Responsibilities 

According to The Canada Elections Act every employee who is an elector is allowed three consecutive hours off from work to vote. To be eligible as an elector the employee must be a Canadian citizen who is 18 years or older on the day of polling. The Act also says that the employer shall not attempt to interfere of influence employee by not allowing time off to vote. 

Three Consecutive Hours (at Employer’s Ease)

If an employee’s current schedule allows him three consecutive hours to vote, then the employer does not need to allow the employee any extra time off to vote on election day. 

However, if an employee’s work schedule is tight and does not allow them three consecutive hours to vote, then, if requested,  the employer must give the necessary time off from work with pay.

For example, if business hours are from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. then the  employer must allow employees to leave work half an hour early, and pay them for those thirty minutes. Voting hours across Canada are mentioned below for your convenience. The only exception is for transportation companies and their employees, who are operating outside the polling division and time off would affect the transportation service. In this situation, the employer does not have to allow employee the time off to vote.

Voting Hours Across Canada (by time zone)

Time ZoneVoting Times 
Newfoundland8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Atlantic8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Eastern9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Central8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Mountain7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Pacific7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Withholding Pay

Employers cannot withhold their employee’s pay for taking time off from work to vote. As per the Canada Elections Act if an employer withholds pay and interferes with an employee’s right to three consecutive hours of time off to vote, they can face serious consequences.

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