Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about time off work for employees on Election Day
This article is part of a series extensively covering the 2022 Ontario general election. It provides voters and business leaders a 360 degree view of all the rules and regulations affecting the campaign and voting, as well as insights into news and other developments this election season. It is intended as general guidance only.
To view the rest of our coverage, please visit Ontario Election 2022.
On Election Day, eligible electors are entitled to three consecutive hours to vote between when the polls open and when they close. If an employee’s work schedule does not otherwise allow for this, then 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.
Employees who are qualified to vote are entitled to have three consecutive hours for voting while the polls are open. If the hours of their employment do not allow for three consecutive hours, then the employee may request additional time for voting and the employer is obligated to grant the request. Voting hours run from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (or 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time) on voting day. So if an employee works from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, for example, then that employee’s work schedule would not allow for three consecutive hours off for voting (i.e. the employee would only have two hours before work or after work during which to vote). The employer could, for example:
- have the employee start work one hour earlier, at 10:00 a.m., and end work one hour earlier, at 6:00 p.m.;
- have the employee start work one hour later, at 12:00 p.m. and end work one hour later, at 8:00 p.m.; or
- provide three consecutive hours off within the employee’s work hours between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Subject to workplace policies and contracts such as collective bargaining agreements, time off for employees to vote within a three-hour window as described above is to be provided at the time of day that is most convenient for the employer.
However, if an employee works from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., then their employer would not be required to provide time off to vote, as the employee has three consecutive hours free from work after their work day to visit a polling station.
Employers cannot deduct pay from employees or impose a penalty by reason of their absence from work during their allotted voting time as described above.
Any employee who is serving at an election as a Returning Officer or poll official, must request time off at least seven days in advance that the time off to vote is required. An employer is not required to remunerate that employee for any leave granted, but such leave shall not be subtracted from any vacation entitlement.
The Election Act specifies that any person who, inside or outside Ontario, prevents another person from voting or otherwise interferes with that person’s exercise of the vote is guilty of an offence and may be liable to a fine of up to $5,000. Should a judge find the person knowingly committed the offence, the employer may additionally be liable for a fine of up to $25,000, up to two years less a day of imprisonment, or both.
This article is part of our 2022 Ontario provincial election series. You can access related content here.
Have questions about working with government and government agencies? Our Public Sector experts at McCarthy Tétrault LLP can help. Please contact Awanish Sinha, Hartley Lefton, Amanda D. Iarusso, or Jacob Klugsberg, if you have any questions or for assistance.
Discover more by reading our other articles on the 2022 Ontario general election:
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know before selling political advertising on your platform
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know before you donate or advertise during an election
- Ontario Election 2022: Voting 101
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about the caretaker convention
- Ontario Election 2022: Guidance for lobbyists this election season
- Ontario Election 2022: The Ontario election has officially been called
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about Political Events
- The Votes are In – 2022 Ontario Election Results