Election Day in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Reminder of Employers' Obligations
October 6, 2011
On Tuesday, October 11, 2011, between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. in parts of Labrador), Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will head to the polls to cast their vote for their political party of choice. Under the Newfoundland & Labrador Elections Act, 1991:
•an employee qualified to vote is entitled to four consecutive hours to vote;
•when an employee’s hours of employment would not give her four consecutive hours outside of working hours, the employer must allow the additional time off she needs to total four consecutive hours to vote;
•an employer is prohibited from making deductions from an employee’s pay or imposing any penalty because of her absence from work for the purpose of voting during the four consecutive hours allowed for voting; and
•the additional time off required for voting, however, are at those hours convenient to the employer.
Under the Newfoundland & Labrador Elections Act, 1991, all employees who are Canadian citizens, 18 years of age, and ordinarily resident in the province on the day prior to Election Day are “qualified” to vote in the provincial election. Qualified voters are entitled to four consecutive hours during voting hours to vote on Election Day. Voting hours are 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. in Newfoundland and 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. in most of Labrador. When a qualified employee’s hours of employment do not allow her the mandatory four consecutive hours, the employer must allow the employee to take enough time off of work that is needed to amount to the four consecutive hours allowed under the Elections Act. However, if such additional time off is required to create the four hours, then the time is at the employer’s convenience. For example:
If an employee works from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., then the employee does not have four consecutive hours outside of his or her work hours in which to cast a vote. As a result, the employer must provide sufficient time off work to meet the four-hour obligation. In this instance, the employer could meet its obligation by permitting the employee to leave work at 4 p.m.
The employer must not make any deduction from an employee’s pay for the employee’s work absence required to allow her four consecutive voting hours; the employer must pay the employee in full for such missed time.
Compliance with the Elections Act is essential and employers who fail to comply so risk severe penalties. An employer that refuses to grant or that by intimidation, undue influence, or in another way interferes with granting an employee the mandated four consecutive hours for voting is guilty of an offence.
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