The local provincial by-elections for the ridings of Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan are fast approaching.  Voting day is September 6th, 2012.  Employers of employees eligible to vote in those ridings must be aware of their rights and obligations under the Election Act of Ontario.

Employers who do not follow the rules set out in the Act may be charged with an offence and liable to fines of up to $5,000 per offence.

Do I need to give my employees time off to vote?

All employees who are qualified to vote are entitled to three (3) consecutive hours to vote on election day, September 6th, 2012.

Employees are qualified to vote if they are:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • a Canadian citizen, and
  • reside in the electoral district

Employers are only required to grant time off where, because of his or her work schedule, the employee does not have three (3) consecutive hours to vote outside of work.  Where this is the case, the employee can request, and the employer must grant, time off work for the employee to attend the poll. Employers must not deduct pay from the employee for any absence from work, but do have the authority to specify which time of day the employee can leave the workplace to vote.

Do I need to give my employees time off work if they are appointed as officials in the election?

Yes, employers in Ontario are required to grant unpaid leave to an employee who has been appointed a returning officer or a poll official.

Employees are required to give seven (7) days notice to their employer before the leave is to begin.

Can I prohibit campaign paraphernalia and campaigning at the workplace?

Yes, employers can prohibit campaign paraphernalia and campaigning in the workplace  as long as the policy is communicated to employees, and is consistently enforced in the workplace.