Accommodating the Employee’s Right to Vote
This past federal election presented an interesting scenario when a client contacted our office on April 29, 2011 to voice his displeasure at his employer’s refusal to allow him time off to cast his vote on election day, the following Monday, May 2, 2011. At the crux of the matter was the client’s ongoing political wrangling with his employer. The client (hereinafter referred to as “Mr. C”) was a card carrying member of the Liberal party while his employer (hereinafter referred to as “Mr. E”) was a supporter of the federal Conservatives.Mr. C was scheduled to commence work at a customer’s place of business at 7 a.m. sharp and to attend at another customer’s plant by 6 p.m. where his services would be required until the job was completed. Voting was made all the more impossible by the fact that by 5 p.m. Mr. C had to travel 25 kilometers north west from his first stop which was already 35 kilometers west of his riding in order to make it to his second appointment by 6 p.m.
Mr. C had always valued his right to vote but was Mr. C’s right to vote legally protected from interference by Mr. E and his drawn out work schedule? Section 132(1) of the Canada Elections Act provides:
“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.”
Furthermore, section 134 provides:
“No employer shall, by intimidation, undue influence or by any other means, interfere with the granting to an elector in their employ of the three consecutive hours for voting, as provided for in section 132.”
Mr. E went so far as to retain counsel of his own despite the above sections having been provided to him by our office for his ease of reference but did eventually allow Mr. C the three hours off in between the two scheduled appointments in order that Mr. C be permitted to carry out his civic duty.