As you may have gathered from the vicious arguments occurring in your Facebook newsfeed, the Federal election is coming up on Monday, October 21st. Here is a quick refresher on employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations on election day.
Employers Required to Provide Paid Time-Off
The Canada Elections Act provides that every employee who has the right to vote (that being all Canadian citizens over the age of eighteen that are registered to vote) is entitled to three consecutive hours off from work to vote during “voting hours” on election day. Employers who attempt to influence or prevent an employee from taking this time could be subject to penalties including fines or imprisonment.
Accommodating Voting Hours
If an employee’s work schedule does not allow them three consecutive hours off during voting hours, their employer must allow them to take paid time during the workday to vote. Voting hours vary depending on time zone:
|Time Zone||Voting Hours (local time)|
|Newfoundland||8:30am to 8:30pm|
|Atlantic||8:30am to 8:30pm|
|Eastern||9:30am to 9:30pm|
|Central||8:30am to 8:30pm|
|Mountain||7:30am to 7:30pm|
|Pacific (BC)||7:00am to 7:00pm|
For example, if a BC employee works until 5:00pm on election day, their employer must allow them to leave an extra hour early so that they have three consecutive hours to vote prior to the end of voting hours. And, they must also pay them for the extra hour off. Alternatively, the employee could be permitted to start work at 10:00am so that they have three consecutive hours off in the morning during voting hours.
However, if a BC employee’s normal work hours start after 10:00am or finish by 4:00pm, they are not entitled to paid time off to vote.
The only employers that may be exempt from these requirements are transportation companies. Employers who transport goods or passengers by land, sea or air may not be required to provide time off to vote if doing so would interfere with operations and if certain additional conditions are met.
Can I Get a Selfie?
Hard no! For those who like to publicize their participation in the democratic process, taking photos or videos of a marked ballot is prohibited (and yes, this includes selfies).