Voting in Canada: A Reminder of Employers’ Obligations to Employees
September 21, 2015
By Shivani Chopra, former lawyer at McInnes Cooper
On Monday, October 19, 2015 – after the longest election campaign in modern Canadian history – Canadians will have their opportunity to elect members to the House of Commons of the 42nd Parliament of Canada. While Canadians can take advantage of advance voting between October 9 and 12, 2015 from noon to 8 p.m., the Canada Elections Act gives certain rights to employees – while imposing certain obligations on employers – on polling day to make their ability to vote meaningful:
Time to Vote. Every employee who is qualified to vote is entitled to be off of work for three consecutive hours while the polls are open on polling day to vote. There are some exceptions, however; for example, someone working in the transportation industry if additional time can’t be allowed to that person without interfering with the transportation service. Polling day is October 19th; the polls are open for 12 hours, but the times vary by time zone.
Additional Time Off. When an employee’s hours of employment doesn’t give her three consecutive hours off to go vote, the employer must allow her the additional time necessary to provide three consecutive hours. However, any additional time off the employer grants for voting are at hours convenient to the employer. For example, an employee who works from 9:00 am to 6:00 p.m. doesn’t have three consecutive hours outside of her work hours in which to vote; the employer could meet its obligation by permitting her to leave work at 5:00 p.m. giving her from 5 to 8 p.m. to vote.
Qualified to Vote. A person is qualified to vote in this federal election if she is 18 years of age on polling day (October 19th), is a Canadian citizen and can prove her identity and address.
No Penalty. 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 time off allowed for voting.
Non-Compliance with Canada Elections Act. An employer that directly or indirectly refuses to grant, or uses intimidation, undue influence, or any other means to interfere with, an employee’s right to time off for voting, if required, under the Canada Elections Act risks a fine of up to $2,000, three months’ imprisonment, or both.
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our McInnes Cooper Labour & Employment Team to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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