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Election Day in Ontario – Voting Obligations Reminder For Employers

June 5, 2018

Election Day in Ontario – Voting Obligations Reminder For Employers

The Ontario Provincial Election is on Thursday, June 7, 2018. Employers should be aware of the following special employment obligations that exist on Election Day.
The Ontario Election Act (the “Act”) states that employees who are eligible to vote are entitled to three consecutive hours of time off to vote during polling hours without reduction in pay.
Polling Hours:

  • Eastern Time Zone: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Central Time Zone: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

If the employee’s hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours off during polling 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. The employer shall grant the request in a manner that best suits the convenience of the employer (i.e. the employer has discretion with respect to how to adjust the hours to achieve compliance).
For example, in the Eastern Time Zone, if 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 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 (i.e. no earlier than 12 p.m.) or leave earlier (i.e. no later than 6 p.m.), or to otherwise grant some other three-hour period off during the day.
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.
Penalty for Employer Non-Compliance:
The Election Act imposes a penalty of $5,000 for employers who do not comply with the above requirements.
Additionally, given the requirement to allow time for voting and prohibiting penalties for requests to do so, requiring employees to “make-up” for time voting may be found to contravene the Act and may attract a penalty.
If you have any questions about your obligations on Election Day, other statutory leave obligations, or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

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