June 7, 2018 marks election day for the province of Ontario. Nearing the election, employees and employers often wonder what their rights and obligations are surrounding the election, especially regarding time off of work to cast their votes.
A common misconception about voting rights of employees in Ontario is that the employer must provide all employees three paid hours off work during regular working hours to vote regardless of whether the employee’s work schedule permit sufficient time off to vote. This is not the case if the employee has three consecutive hours off work during voting hours.
Under Ontario’s Election Act, employers are obligated to provide three consecutive hours off work during voting hours to cast their votes. However, this is only applicable when the employee does not have three consecutive hours free from work during voting hours. For example, if an employee works from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, their employer is not obligated to provide them with time off as they will have three consecutive hours free from work from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Where the employee does not have three consecutive hours free from work, for example, they work from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, they must request time off and the employer must grant the employee this request, at the time of day that best suits the employer. Additional time off work to vote shall be leave with pay as an employer is prohibited from making any deductions from the pay of an employee or imposing a penalty upon the employee by reason of their absence from work during the three consecutive hours.
Please note that Ontario’s voting hours are 9:00 am to 9:00 pm EST.
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