For many young people and those with newly acquired Canadian citizenship, October 19th will be the first time they have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right by casting a vote in a federal election. As first-timers, many of these people may not be aware of the time they are entitled to take, as an elector.
On Election Day, employers have a responsibility to ensure that their standard working hours do not intersect with their employees’ right to having three consecutive hours to cast their vote, as prescribed by the Canada Elections Act.
Section 132 of the Act states that,
Every employee who is an elector is entitled, during voting hours on polling day, to have three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting his or her vote and, if his or her hours of work do not allow for those three consecutive hours, his or her employer shall allow the time for voting that is necessary to provide those three consecutive hours.
In other words, if polling stations are open until 8:30 pm, and your employee is finished work at 5:30 pm, then he or she would have 3 hours to vote during their own time. But, if they face a one hour commute home to their polling station after work, then they are left with two hours to vote – meaning the employee may request to leave an hour early.
That said, interns – when compared to employees – hold an ambiguous position within the Canada Elections Act (among other Acts and regulations), despite multiple politicians pushing to have employment standards for interns more clearly defined at the federal and provincial level.
While significant progress has been made in terms of ensuring fairness and equity for interns in the workplace, the question remains: do interns get time off work to vote?
The short answer is yes. Although there is still work to be done regarding interns’ employment rights, most policy makers and employers have subscribed to the notion that, “When in doubt, treat an intern as an employee,” which is a good mantra to maintain to avoid any potential risks.
Interns bring substantial value to their roles as they build towards a promising career; it seems only fair to allow for the small amount of time required for them to cast their vote in the hopes of building a better country.