The 2019 Canadian federal election is scheduled to take place on October 21, 2019.
As Canadians prepare to head to the polls, employers should be aware of their Election Day obligations. Under the Canada Elections Act, employees who are eligible to vote must have at least three consecutive hours to cast their ballots on Election Day. Note that while many employees will have sufficient time to vote before or after work due to polling hours, those who do not must be granted unpaid voting time off at the employer’s convenience.
In Ontario polling stations are currently scheduled to be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. As a result, an employee who is scheduled to work from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. may not have three consecutive hours to cast their ballot. So in order to satisfy the statutory requirement, the employer could schedule the employee work from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. or from 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Election Day.
Alternatively, the employer may simply allow the employee to leave 30 minutes earlier than scheduled so that they have a three hour voting window from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Employers may wish to have written policies in place addressing the company’s procedure for allocating voting time off.
It should also be noted that, under certain circumstances, special exemptions apply to employers in the transportation industry. For employers in the transportation industry, the obligation to provide three consecutive hours off to vote does not apply if these four conditions are met:
- the employer is a company that transports goods or passengers by land, air or water;
- the employee is employed outside his or her polling division;
- the employee is employed in the operation of a means of transportation; and
- the time off cannot be allowed without interfering with the transportation service.
More details and FAQ's pertaining to employer obligations can be reviews at Elections Canada's Website.