The date of the federal election is October 21, on which most employees are entitled to paid time off to vote [except only for employees who transport goods or people by land, water or air, and are employed outside of their polling divisions and time off to vote cannot reasonably be provided without interfering with the transportation service).

Any employee who is a Canadian citizen and eighteen years of age is rightfully entitled to take three, consecutive hours off on election day for the purpose of voting.  

If the employee’s duties reasonably preclude that person from taking three, consecutive hours away to vote, the employer must give the employee adequate time off to meet the requirement of three, consecutive hours.

Generally, voting hours within the Eastern Time Zone are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Employees’ pay cannot be reduced, nor can they be otherwise penalized, for taking this time off to vote, even if the employee is commission or piecework based. Rather, qualified employees must be paid for a full day’s work as if they had not been given time off to actually vote.

Employers who do not follow this statutory protection could be fined not more than $2,000 or be imprisoned for a term of not more than three months, or both.

Employers are also prohibited from interfering with these three, consecutive hours to vote – by intimidation, undue influence or other means. Employers who breach this prohibition are liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both. If conviction is by indictment, the maximum fine and term of imprisonment increase to $50,000 and five years.

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