As you are aware a provincial election has been called for Thursday, October 6, 2011 (“Election Day”). Employers should be aware of the following special employment obligations that exist on Election Day.
Time off to vote:
Voting hours in the Eastern Time Zone are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Election Day, all employees eligible to vote shall have three (3) consecutive hours for the purpose of voting while the polls are open. If the employee’s hours of work do not allow for three (3) consecutive hours the employee may request that his or her employer allow such additional time for voting as may be necessary to provide those three consecutive hours and the employer shall grant the request.
An example of these obligations:
If your employees are scheduled to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. there will be no additional obligations as the employees would have the required three (3) hours to vote after leaving work. However, if employees ordinarily work from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the employer would either have to allow the employees to start later (ie., no earlier then 12 p.m.) or leave earlier (ie. no later then 6 p.m.), or to otherwise grant some other three-hour period off during the day.
Time off required is granted at the employer’s convenience:
The Ontario Election Act (the “Act”) states that any time off for voting provided to employees shall be granted at the time of day that best suits the convenience of the employer.
Payment of Wages:
If the employer is required to provide time for an employee to vote, the employer is prohibited from making deductions from wages or imposing any penalty on an employee for their absence from work during the time the employer grants an employee to vote.
Penalties under the Act:
The Act imposes a penalty of $5,000 if the employer is found to have impeded or interfered with the employee’s right to vote. If this offence is found to be committed knowingly, the employer may be liable for a fine up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of two years less a day.
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If you have any questions regarding this or any other workplace law issue, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.