Employer Obligations on Election Day
A federal election will be held on Monday, October 21, 2019.
As a service to our clients and other interested parties, we are publishing this bulletin on the obligations owed by employers to their employees on election day.
Employers must provide their employees:
Three consecutive hours off work
- Eligible voters are entitled to three consecutive hours off work while polls are open for the purpose of casting their ballot
- All Canadian citizens who are at least 18 years of age on election day are eligible to vote
Without loss of pay
- Employers may not make any deduction from an employee’s pay because the employee took time off work to vote
At a time scheduled by the employer
- Employers can choose when to provide the three consecutive hours for voting
- Time off work can be scheduled to be convenient to the employer
When are polling stations open on election day?
- In the Newfoundland time zone, polling stations are open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- In the Atlantic time zone, polling stations are open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- In the Eastern time zone, polling stations are open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
- In the Central time zone, polling stations are open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- In the Mountain time zone (including Saskatchewan), polling stations are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- In the Pacific time zone, polling stations are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Justin and Andrew both work on election day
- Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in their electoral district
|Justin works from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.||Andrew works from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.|
|The employer must let Justin do one of the following:|
• start work late — at 10:00 a.m.
• leave work early — at 4:00 p.m.
• take three consecutive hours off work during the day
|• Andrew is not entitled to any time off work
• He already has three consecutive hours free from work — i.e. 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Penalties for non-compliance
The consequences of failing to comply with the legislation can be significant.
An employer that fails to provide its employees with three consecutive hours off work to vote or that deducts wages because of time off work to vote may face a fine of up to $2,000. An employer that uses intimidation, undue influence or any other means to interfere with an employee’s right to take time off work to vote may face a fine of up to $50,000. In both instances, there is also the possibility, albeit unlikely, of jail time.
Collective agreement obligations
If you operate in a unionized environment, it is advisable to review any provision of your collective agreement which speaks to your obligations on election day as you may have obligations in addition to those under the legislation.
We are aware of at least one collective agreement, for example, that provides employees with four consecutive hours off work to vote.
The right to have three consecutive hours free from work on election day, without any loss of pay, is not a right available to all employees.
For a company that transports goods or passengers by land, air or water, an employee who is employed outside his or her polling division in the operation of a means of transportation is not entitled to time off work to vote if this cannot be accomplished without interfering with the transportation service.
If you have any questions about how the upcoming federal election may affect you and your business or operation or about any other workplace matter at all, please feel free to contact James D. Kondopulos at firstname.lastname@example.org or Brandon I. Hillis at email@example.com.
While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in this bulletin, you are urged to seek specific advice on matters of concern and not to rely solely on what is contained herein. The bulletin is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.