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A federal election is taking place on September 20, 2021, and, as such, Canadians will be headed to the polls to elect their members to Parliament, and subsequently, elect the Prime Minister of Canada.

An Employer’s Obligations to Enable Employees to Vote in an Election

This is a unique election in that this is the first time an election has ever been called during a pandemic. With many employees being called back to work in person and others remaining at home, it is important that an employer abides by their legal obligations as per the Canada Elections Act.

More specifically, under section 132 of the Canada Elections Act, every employee who is eligible to cast a vote is entitled to three (3) consecutive hours, during official polling hours, to cast their vote. It is important to note that this time must be provided to an employee should they not have three (3) consecutive hours to vote outside of their normal work hours.

For example, if polls are open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and an employee works from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, an employer is required to provide the appropriate amount of time off for the employee to cast their vote. If the employee usually works from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, they can simply cast their vote after work hours. Thus, the employer is not obligated to provide the employee with time off to vote.

Employers cannot deduct any pay from an employee’s regular earnings for taking the required time to cast a vote in the federal election.

COVID-19 and Voting

With COVID-19 numbers holding steady due to a possible fourth wave of the Delta variant of the virus, it is important that any employees heading to the polls adequately protect themselves from the virus since large amounts of people will be entering and exiting.

When employees return to the workplace after voting, employers should consider implementing pre-screening measures to protect against any workplace outbreaks of COVID-19.

Offences under the Canada Elections Act

It is important for employers to note that if they do not provide their employees with the appropriate amount of time needed to cast a vote, they can be found guilty of committing an offence under the Canada Elections Act.

Subsequently, if an employer deducts an employee’s pay or imposes any sort of punishment/penalty, they can be fined up to $2,000.00, up to three (3) months in jail, or both.

There are various employers who are exempt from these rules including companies that transport goods or passengers by land, air, or water, and who are employed outside of their polling division while operating a type of transportation.

Contact Sultan Lawyers in Toronto for Advice for Employers

For further information about employer obligations on election day, or to ensure that your company policies are in compliance with all election day requirements, please contact Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers at 416-214-5111 or here.

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