Saskatchewan goes to the polls in a provincial election on October 26, 2020. It is important for employers to be aware of their obligations under The Election Act, 1996, SS 1996, c E-6.01 (the "Act"), and of an employee's right to have time away from work to cast their vote.
Three Consecutive Hours To Vote
The Act provides employees who are eighteen years or older, are Canadian citizens, and who have lived in Saskatchewan for at least six months before the election was called, with three consecutive hours away from work to cast their votes.
This does not mean that employers must provide three hours off of work on election day to all employees. Employers are not required to provide time off to employees if they have three consecutive hours free from work while the polls are open. Employees who complete work at 5 p.m., for example, will have three consecutive hours for voting and are not entitled to time off as polls are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Employers must provide employees with paid time off where they do not have three consecutive hours free from work while the polls are open; the time off may be granted at the convenience of the employer. Employers do not need to provide three hours of time off, but rather, enough time to provide employees with three consecutive hours to vote. An employer could, for example, provide an employee who works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with three hours to vote by allowing them to leave work at 5 p.m.
The Act does not require employees to request time off to vote, so employers are encouraged to proactively address their employees' right to vote on election day. Saskatchewan employers should be mindful of the upcoming provincial election and implement any necessary schedule changes in advance of October 26.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.