Voting in the Federal Election: Granting Employees Time Off

Nick Rossi

October 18 2019

With the October 21st federal election quickly approaching, employers are likely wondering whether their employees are entitled to time off to vote. The Canada Elections Act sets out employees’ rights regarding time off to vote.

Employers must be aware of their obligations and their employees’ rights, as failure to comply can result in substantial fines, imprisonment, or both.

When is an Employer Required to Provide Time Off to Vote?

If an employee’s normal work schedule gives them the appropriate amount of legislated time to vote, an employer is not required to provide any time off. However, employers are required to provide their employees with time off on election day if their work schedule interferes with their ability to vote during polling hours.

How Much Time Is Required?

In a federal election, employees* who are eligible to vote are entitled to three consecutive hours off from work to vote during polling hours.

Employers can provide less than three hours off work if an employee’s schedule already leaves them some free time during polling hours. In such a case, the employer must only give additional time off to fulfill the consecutive hours requirement.

An employer has the right to decide when in the day to give this time off, based on business needs.

*Note that these requirements do not apply to transportation companies and their employees if certain conditions are met.

Additional Employer Obligations

Employers are prohibited from attempting to interfere with the granting of time off by intimidation, undue influence, or any other means. Further, an employer cannot make deductions from an employee’s pay or impose any type of penalty against employees who require the time off to vote.

Do you need more advice on managing employees’ time off or leaves of absence?

Speak with our HR experts to get advice on managing other types of time off/leave, including citizenship ceremony leave and jury duty. Contact us today to get answers to any employment-related questions: 1(833)247-3652.

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