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Federal Election - What Are An Employer’s Obligations?

September 23, 2015, by Corina Sibley | Work Environment and Policies

According to the Canada Election Act each employee is entitled to 3 consecutive hours to vote.  The polls will be open on October 19, 2015 and voting hours are varied depending on the time zone.  For example, polling stations will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Eastern time zone, but from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for those in the Mountain time zone.  If an employee has 3 consecutive hours available to him either before or after his work shift, there is no obligation on the part of the employer to provide the time off.  However, if the employee’s shift is such that she does not have a 3 hour window for voting during the 12 hour voting period, the employer is obligated to provide her with a 3 hour paid leave in order to vote.  The employer cannot have the employee use vacation, sick time or lieu time to cover the time off.  The employee must request the time off to vote, and the employer must grant the request, however at a time that is most convenient for the employer.

However, the above does not apply to employees of companies that transport goods or people by land, air or water who are employed outside their polling division if the additional time interferes with that transportation service. 

Are you ready for the election?  It may be worthwhile sending out an email announcement in advance to your employees letting them know how your business will be handling it based on your employees’ work schedules.


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