With Election Day fast approaching on September 20, 2021, employers must be aware of their obligation to give employees time off work to vote and to provide paid time off if necessary where requested by the employee.
Under the Canada Elections Act, employees who are Canadian citizens and at least 18 years old are entitled to three consecutive hours on Election Day during voting hours to vote. Employers must give an employee paid time off if their hours of work would not allow them to have three consecutive hours to vote. Employers may choose which hours the employee can take off to meet the 3 hour requirement.
Voting hours for the Canada’s time zones are as follows:
|Time Zone||Voting Hours|
|Eastern||9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.|
|Central, Atlantic or Newfoundland||8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.|
|Mountain||7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.|
|Pacific||7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
As an example, an employee in the Pacific time zone who has an eight-hour shift from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. would not have three consecutive hours either before or after work to vote. To comply with the Act, the employer must either give the employee an hour off in the morning or afternoon (or three hours consecutive hours during their workday), to ensure that the employee has three consecutive hours to vote. Thus, the employee would only be required to work from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but must be paid as though they had worked all eight hours.
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