Elections and Time off to Vote

With municipal elections coming up on October 25, 2010, employers and employees should be aware that workers are entitled to time off to vote.

On election day, polls are open from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. The Municipal Elections Act requires that employees have at least three consecutive hours of time off from work in order to vote without any loss of pay. If an employee’s shift would not allow for three consecutive hours during the day in which to vote, the employer must allow for time off, without loss of pay.

If the employee’s shift already allows them three consecutive hours in which to vote, then the employer is not required to provide any additional time off. This means, for example, that if an employee is scheduled to work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., he or she would already have three consecutive hours off to vote (from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and the employer would not be required to provide any time off.

If an employee’s shift is from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m., however, they would only have two consecutive hours off to vote (at most), from 6:00 p.m. until 8 p.m. In these circumstances, an employer would be required to provide time off so that the employee has three consecutive hours off in which to vote.

The law allows an employer to determine when the employee is given time off. This means that the employer can allow the employee to take three hours off in the middle of the day, or can allow the employee to come in late or leave early so that he or she has three consecutive hours off. In the example above (shift from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.), it would make most sense for the employer to allow the employee to leave early (at 5:00 p.m.), since this would allow for the least time off.

To be eligible for time off to vote, an employee must be a Canadian Citizen, resident of an electoral district in Ontario, at least 18 years of age and not otherwise prohibited from voting.

For more information on the Municipal Elections Act or other election-related leave, please
contact us .