Do you get time off to vote?

Canadians will be voting in a federal election on 2 May 2011.   Two of the most common questions heard, aside from which party do you support are:

Do I get time off from work to vote? and,

Do I get paid for taking the time off work?

The answer to both questions is: “it depends”.

The Canada Elections Act states that every employee who is an elector is entitled to three consecutive hours during voting hours to cast a vote.  This does not necessarily mean time off from work.  The Act makes it clear that the time that the employer shall allow for voting is at the convenience of the employer.  For example, if the polls are opened until 8:30 pm and the employee’s regular shift ends at 4 pm, the employee has 4 ½ consecutive hours to cast a vote and would not get time off from work.  However, if the regular shift is from 10 am  to 6 pm, the employer could allow the employee to come in late or leave early from work to provide 3 consecutive hours.  In this exemple, the employer would be giving employees three consecutive hours to vote by allowing them to leave 30 minutes early, ie 5:30 pm.

As far as pay is concerned, the  Act prohibits an employer from making a deduction from the pay of an employee or to impose a penalty for the time allowed to vote.   In the first scenario, there is no cost to the employer since the regular shift was completed.  In the second example, the employer would have to pay full wages for 8 hours even though employees completed 7.5 hours of work.

In short, time off from work for voting depends on the employees’ regular shift  and the hours that polls are opened in your jurisdiction on election day.

For more information, visit Elections Canada at http://www.elections.ca/home.aspx

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