On Monday, October 21, 2019 Canadians go to the ballots to vote for the next federal government. But seeing that it is a weekday, most eligible voters will be working on election day.
Are you allowed to take time off to vote and if so, how does this impact your pay?
The short answer is, by law, if you are eligible to vote, you must be given time off from work to vote, without penalty. Specifically, your employer must give you 3 consecutive hours off work during polling hours on election day. If your work schedule does not allow for that, your employer must give you time off work, whether at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of your work day, so that you have at least 3 consecutive hours off of work during polling hours.
For example, if voting hours are from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm and you usually work from 10:00am to 7:00 pm, with a 1-hour lunch break from 12 pm to 1 pm, in order to give you three consecutive hours to vote, your employer can:
- allow you to arrive late (at 12:30 pm), or
- allow you to leave early (at 6:30 pm) or
- allow you to leave before or after your lunch break (i.e. from 10 am to 12 pm or from 1 pm to 3 pm).
Keep in mind that the employer is permitted to determine when employees are to take the time off to vote, in accordance with its operational needs.
Your employer cannot dock your pay for taking time off to vote during regular working hours. For example, if your employer allows you to leave half an hour early at 6:30pm, you are entitled to be paid for the half hour off work.
Employees may voluntarily forego the time off work to vote, but an employer cannot pressure an employee to forfeit their right to take time off work to vote, or otherwise interfere with their right to time off to vote.
It is against the law for an employer to reduce pay, interfere with an employee’s right to time off to vote, or to penalize an employee for taking time off to vote. An employer who breaks the law in this regard, can face hefty fines, imprisonment or both.
Know your voting rights. For more information, contact us at Pak Smith Employment Lawyers.
 There is an exception to this 3-hour rule if you work in the transportation field.