A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on Saturday, October 24, 2020 ("Election Day").
Under section 74 of the Elections Act, an employee who is entitled to vote is entitled to receive four consecutive hours free from work during voting hours for the purpose of voting.
If an employee is scheduled to work on Election Day and they do not have four consecutive hours free from work during voting hours, the employer must take steps to ensure that the employee does have four consecutive hours free from work during voting hours on Election Day or, at the employee's request, on a day during the advance voting period.
In both cases, the employer may choose the four consecutive hours when the employee is free from work to best suit its needs.
The employer cannot deduct an employee's wages or otherwise penalize an employee for taking the full four hours to which they are entitled.
If an employee is not scheduled to work on Election Day, or the employee's working hours on Election Day already provide them with four consecutive hours free from work during voting hours, or the employee has already voted during advance voting or submitted a mail-in ballot, the employer does not need to take further steps.
Ways to vote
Voting hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for both advance voting and Election Day voting. Advance voting is open Thursday, October 15 to Wednesday, October 21.
Voting may be done in person or by mail. Vote-by-mail packages may be requested on the Elections BC website.
Accessible voting is also available for at-risk voters and voters with disabilities, including curbside voting, assisted telephone voting, and site-based voting.
COVID-19 safety measures
Elections BC has implemented various safety measures for in-person voting, including physical distancing, capacity limits, protective barriers, hand sanitizing stations, and frequent cleaning of voting stations and frequently touched surfaces. Election officials have received training on safe workplace guidelines and pandemic protocols, and they will be wearing personal protective equipment.
Elections BC encourages in-person voters to wear masks, but masks are not mandatory. Voters will not be asked to remove their masks for the purpose of identification.
Elections BC asks voters who are ill or self-isolating to not visit a voting place, and to request a vote-by-mail package or contact Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683.
For more information on this topic, visit the Elections BC website or contact a member of our Labour, Employment & Human Rights Group.
Section 74 of the Elections Act is reproduced below.
74 (1) Subject to subsections (1.1) and (1.2), an employee who is entitled to vote in an election or who, on registration, will be entitled to vote in the election is entitled to have 4 consecutive hours free from employment during voting hours for general voting.
(1.1) If both of the following apply, an employee is entitled to have 4 consecutive hours free from employment during voting hours for advance voting:
(a) the employee has hours of employment scheduled on general voting day such that the employee would not have 4 consecutive hours free from employment during voting hours;
(b) the employee is willing to vote at an advance voting opportunity.
(1.2) An employee who is entitled to time off under subsection (1.1) is not entitled to time off under subsection (1).
(2) If an individual's hours of employment do not allow for the consecutive hours referred to in subsection (1) or (1.1), the individual's employer must allow the individual time off from employment to provide those hours.
(3) The employer may set time off required by subsection (2) as best suits the convenience of the employer.
(4) An employer must not
(a) without reasonable justification, fail to grant to an employee sufficient time off as required by subsection (2), or
(b) make a deduction in pay for the time off or exact any penalty from the employee for the time off.
(5) The following are not entitled to time off under this section:
(a) election officials and individuals employed or retained by the chief electoral officer or a district electoral officer to work on general voting day;
(b) individuals who, by reason of employment, are in such remote locations that they would be unable to reasonably reach any voting place during voting hours.
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.