Do Employees Get Paid Time Off to Vote?

On Monday October 21, voting stations in Ontario will be open from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm, but some workers shifts will not permit them to attend the polling station during those hours (i.e. persons who work 12-hour shifts). While advance polls and online voting are possibilities, Elections Canada has “rules” that permit employees to take time off work to vote. You can check the Elections Canada FAQ list here.

Employers must ensure that persons who don’t work a “normal 8 hour shift” have three consecutive hours in which to attend their polling station and cast their vote.  If this means the employee must take time off work, the “timing” of the three hours is dependent upon employer needs (i.e. they should not take the three hours during the busiest time of their shift).

Employers cannot deduct pay for employees who exercise this right, meaning that employees are paid for this time off.

According to Elections Canada’s site, “It is an offence for employers to fail to provide time off for voting if required under the Canada Elections Act. It is also an offence for an employer to reduce an employee’s pay where the employee has been provided time off to vote in accordance with the Act. The maximum penalty for violating these prohibitions is a fine of up to $2,000, three months imprisonment, or both.”

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