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The Federal election is fast approaching. There are a number of ways for employees to vote, including:

  • In person on Election Day – October 19, 2015 from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm in Ontario.
  • In person on the advance voting days – October 9, 10, 11 and 12, 2015 from noon to 8 pm.
  • In person at any Elections Canada office – deadline of October 13, 2015.
  • By mail – deadline to apply to vote by mail is October 13, 2015.

Eligible voters (i.e. Canadian citizens who are at least 18 years old on Election Day) are free to choose to vote in person on Election Day or by an alternative method. Employers cannot require voting by alternative methods.

Employees choosing to vote in person on Election Day are entitled to 3 consecutive hours to vote during polling hours. Employers must provide paid time off work if an employee’s work schedule does not allow these 3 consecutive hours to vote.

Let’s consider some examples for Ontario employees where polling hours are 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. If an employee works from:

  • 8 am to 5 pm, no time off work needs to be provided as there are more than 3 hours left after the workday is completed to vote.
  • 10 am to 7 pm, the employee will either need to be allowed to report to work late (at or after 12:30 pm) or leave work early (at or before 6:30 pm) in order to have the required 3 consecutive hours to vote. The employer – not the employee — gets to decide when the paid time off work will be given.
  • 1 pm to 11 pm, no time off work needs to be provided as there are more than 3 hours before the workday starts to vote.

Take caution employers! It is an offence to fail to provide the paid time off for voting. It is also an offence to penalize an employee for taking that time off work. The maximum penalty per violation is a $2,000 fine, 3 months’ imprisonment, or both.

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