Are employees entitled to paid time off to vote in the election?

Well, it very much depends on the role and the industry….

Are employees entitled to paid time off to vote in the election?

by Rhonda B. Levy and George Vassos of Littler

The 2022 Ontario general election will take place on June 2, 2022.  Voters will elect members of the provincial government to serve in the Legislative Assembly.

Under Ontario’s Election Act, every employee who is qualified to vote is entitled to three consecutive hours to vote while the polls are open.  In most of the province, polls are open between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm; however, in an electoral district entirely in the Central Time Zone, polls are open between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. 

If an employee is not scheduled to work for three consecutive hours that fall within voting hours, their employer has no obligation to provide them with paid time off from work.  If, however, the employee’s schedule does not allow for three consecutive hours that fall within voting hours, the employee may request that their employer allow additional time for voting as may be necessary to provide those three consecutive hours.  While the statute requires the employer to grant the employee’s request, any time off for voting provided to an employee may be granted at the time of day that is most convenient for the employer.  The employer should not make any deduction from the employee’s pay or penalize the employee in any way due to the employee’s absence from work for voting. 

In addition, an employer is required to grant an employee unpaid leave to perform their duties under the Election Act (e.g., as a returning officer or a poll official) provided the employee makes the request at least seven days before the leave begins.  The employer may not dismiss or otherwise penalize an employee because they exercised their right to be granted leave, and the employee’s leave should not be subtracted from their vacation entitlement.

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