Employer Obligations on Election Day

Canadians will be heading to the polls today, Monday, September 20th, 2021, to elect their next Federal Government. Employers have a number of obligations to employees under the Canada Elections Act, SC 2000, c 9 (the “Act”).

Under the Act, every employee who is eligible to vote is entitled to three consecutive hours, during polling hours on Election Day, to cast their vote. If these hours are not available outside of work hours, an employer does have the right to determine what time during the workday the employee will have off, based upon what is convenient for the employer. Note that even during a pandemic, while many employees may continue to work from home, this does not change an employer’s obligations under the Act.

This year, voting hours on election day will be from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. local time. Employers have the right to decide when during the day is most convenient for granting any necessary time off. It is also important to note that employers are not required to take into account an employee’s travel time to vote.

Employers may not make deductions from an employee’s pay, require the employee to take a vacation day or sick day, or otherwise impose any penalty for the time taken off work by an employee to vote.

However, these obligations do not apply to an employer and an employee who is engaged in the operation or dispatch of scheduled buses, motor transports, ships or aircrafts, and to whom the one hour cannot be allowed without interfering with the scheduled operations or dispatch of buses, motor transports, ships or aircrafts.

An employer is guilty of an offence who refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence, or in another way, interferes with the granting to an elector in his or her employ, of the consecutive hours for voting provided in the Act.

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