A 2021 Federal General Election has been called and election day will take place on Monday, September 20, 2021. As residents of BC and citizens of Canada, we have both the privilege and responsibility to vote. Employers have an obligation to provide eligible employees time to head to the ballots and get their votes in.
In this blog, we’ll be going into detail about employer obligations regarding the 2021 Federal General Elections.
Right to Time Off
Eligible voters will have, by law, three consecutive hours free from work to cast their vote during voting hours on election day (September 20). Voting hours are based on time zones. In BC, the voting hours on election day are 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM PST. For a list of other time zones’ voting hours, click here.
If your work does not allow three consecutive hours of no work to vote during voting hours, voters are entitled to time off to ensure they have enough time. Here are some details about the right to time off:
- No specific timeframe is noted in Canada’s Elections Act for employees to request time off to vote. Therefore, employees can request time off with little notice to vote – and it must be approved.
- No penalty or pay deduction can be taken for time off work to vote. Employees are entitled to their normal compensation for any hours not worked during this time.
- If time is taken off from work, employers have the right to decide when they want to schedule employees to take this time off.
- Time off is unnecessary if normal hours provide three consecutive hours free from work to vote.
For example: If Vancouver employees’ regular work hours are from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, employees can request for time off and employers can decide whether they want the employees to start work. Employers can either request employees start at 10AM to allow three consecutive hours from 7:00 AM -10:00 AM for voting purposes, or allow employees to end early at 4PM and allowing a voting period from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Or, employers can allow three consecutive hours off during normal working hours for employees to vote.
The right to time off noted above does not apply to eligible voters working in the transportation industry (transporting goods or passengers by land, air, or water) who is operating a means of transportation outside their polling division. Employers do not need to need to provide time off to vote if this time cannot be allowed without interfering with transportation services.
Advanced Polling Days
Starting as early as September 10, Canadian’s can head to the polls and cast their vote through advanced voting.
However, employers are not obligated to grant time off to vote on advanced polling days. Employers who circulate information regarding advanced polling dates do not relieve them of their obligations to grant employees time off during work to vote on election day.
We hope this blog provided a little bit of guidance on some employer obligations regarding this year’s Federal General Election. We encourage all eligible voters to practice their right to vote and make their voices heard.
To learn more about how to vote and different ways to cast your ballot, visit Elections Canada’s website.