Time Off to Vote18-Apr-12
by Ali Stinson
With a provincial election days away in Alberta, it is a good time to revisit how much time off an employer must give an employee to vote in a provincial election. Under the Election Act, an employee must be allowed three consecutive hours to vote on election day.
Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Therefore, if an employee’s hours of work begin no earlier than 12 p.m. or end no later than 5 p.m., the employer will not be required to grant time off to vote. This is because the employee already has three consecutive hours, before or after work, to do so.
However, where an employee does not have three consecutive hours before or after work to vote, the employer must, if requested by the employee, allow time off at its convenience. For example, if an employee’s hours of work are from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., then the employer must allow the employee to leave work by 5 p.m. Or, if more convenient for the employer, allow the employee to come in at 12 p.m. If neither of those options are suitable, then the employer must allow the employee to leave work for three consecutive hours between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Employers are obligated to give employees the required time off to vote without imposing a penalty, such as a deduction in wages.
There is, however, no obligation for an employer to provide an employee with transportation back to their respective constituency to vote. If an employee cannot vote, within the three hour time-frame allowed, they will have to utilize an advance polling option (available the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday prior to election day) or request a Special Ballot from the returning officer of the electoral division in which the employee is ordinarily a resident.