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Communiqués

Employees’ right to paid leave for voting in municipal elections

Fasken
Reading Time 5 minute read

Labour, Employment and Human Rights Bulletin

Election day is rapidly approaching. Municipal elections will be held across Quebec on Sunday, November 5 and polling stations will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Advance polling will be held seven days before polling day (October 29, 2017, from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.). Some municipalities also provide for a second day of advance polling on October 30, 2017. Every elector whose name is entered on the electoral list may vote in an advance poll. 

Consecutive hours allocated to go vote

Employees who are working on November 5 are entitled to be granted time by their employer to vote. Article 213 of the Act Respecting Elections and Referendums in Municipalities, chapter E‑2.2, sets out the employer’s obligation regarding the number of hours that must be granted to employees for voting in the municipal elections:

“ During the polling period, every employer shall grant to those of his employees whose names are entered on the list of electors sufficient leave to allow at least four consecutive hours to vote, not counting the time normally allowed for meals. No deduction of wages nor any penalty may be imposed on any employee by reason of this leave.”

Employers are not required to grant leave when the prescribed number of consecutive hours
(4 hours) does not conflict with the employee’s work schedule. The hours during which polling stations are open must therefore be examined in order to determine whether there is a conflict with the employee’s work schedule.

However, where the employee’s work schedule do not leave him or her the prescribed number of consecutive hours to vote, the employer must grant the additional hours of leave that are needed in order for an employee who so requests to have the prescribed number of consecutive hours to vote. The additional hours may be scheduled at any time, at the employer’s convenience.

Examples

Employee 1 works from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. His employer would not be required to grant him paid leave to vote, even if the employee requests it, because the employee has four consecutive hours to vote between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Employee 2 works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If the employee requests it, the employer must grant her the leave that is needed in order for her to have four consecutive hours to vote. The employer could allow employee 2 to start work at 2 p.m., which would leave her four consecutive hours, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., to vote. The employer could also allow employee 2 to leave work at 4 p.m., which would leave her four consecutive hours, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., to vote.

Paid leave

Because employers are required to grant employees leave to vote, an employer may not impose a penalty on an employee or withhold any of the employee’s wages. The hours of leave granted for voting must therefore be paid, where the employee would not have the necessary number of consecutive hours to vote. In the example of employee 2, in the first scenario, the employee would be paid for the period from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as if she had been at work for that period. In the second scenario, employee 2 would be paid only for the period from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., as if she had been at work during that period.

For additional information concerning your obligations under elections legislation, please contact a member of our Labour, Employment and Human Rights practice group.

 

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