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Do Canadians get time off work to vote? FAQs and tips for employers as polling day approaches

By April 21, 2011August 6th, 2019Uncategorized

On May 2, 2011, Canadians will be called to the polls to vote in a federal election. While it’s none of your business who employees vote for, it IS your business to ensure they understand their rights.

Can we encourage employees to vote?

Absolutely! While employers should not tell employees who to vote for, it is good to encourage employees to exercise their right to vote. But remember to stay completely neutral in your messaging. Even if a certain political party is favourable to your organization, it is not right for an employer to use their authority to impose their political beliefs on employees.

First-time Voters

While many working Canadians are familiar with voting and the election process, it can be a bit of a mystery to many, especially first-time voters  or people who are new to the Canadian workforce.

For  immigrants who are Canadian citizens, this upcoming election may be the first opportunity they will have to vote in Canada. These employees might come from societies where voters’ rights are not recognized in the same way as they are in Canada, or they may simply be unfamiliar with our system. Recent graduates may be familiar with voting, but less familiar with the rules of the workplace.

If there are people in your organization who are new to the Canadian workplace and may be voting for the first time, ensure they understand their rights under the Canada Elections Act, and know where to access information about where and how to vote.

Click here for more tips for first-time voters

Voters with Disabilities

For persons with disabilities, accessing polling stations might be more challenging if there are barriers along the way. For this reason, they may require additional time to get to and from polling stations. It’s important to let people with disabilities know that there are now three ways to vote: by special ballot, at an advance poll, or on polling day. The special ballot allows Canadians to vote by mail or in person at the office of their returning officer. By law, polling stations must have level access, and in the rare cases where they do not, transfer certificates are available so that electors with disabilities can use a different polling station that is accessible to them.

Click here for more information about Persons with Disabilities and Canada’s Electoral Systems

Do Canadians get time off work to vote?

This is one of the most common questions. The answer is, yes. And no.

According to the Canada Elections Act:

Every voter is entitled to have three consecutive hours in which to vote. Employers whose employees have three consecutive hours of their own time available during polling hours need not allow additional time for voting. If, however, an employee does not have this time available, it is stressed that the amount of time required:

  • must be requested by the employee,
  • is at a time convenient to the employer, and
  • once requested by the employee, must be allowed by the employer.

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.

For more tips and information, visit:

Elections Canada:

Elections Ontario: