With BC’s provincial election scheduled to take place on May 9, 2017, it is a good time to remind employers of their obligations in this regard.

Employer Obligations

  • Further to the British Columbia Election Act, an employee is entitled to have four consecutive hours free from employment during the voting hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, to exercise their voting rights on election day. Note that this requirement does not apply to early voting days.
  • Further to the above entitlement, employers have an obligation to ensure that employees are given sufficient time off from work, to cast their vote.
  • This does not mean that an employer is required to give all their employees four hours off work.
  • An employer is required to modify the employee’s work schedule and give time off only if the employee’s schedule does not permit four consecutive hours free from work between the hours of 8:00 am – 8:00 pm.

    This means, for example, that an employee who is not scheduled to start work until noon, or who is scheduled to finish work at 4:00pm, will not need any time off to vote.

  • If an employer is required to give time off, it is up to the employer to decide the timing. The employer can schedule time off for voting at the beginning of a shift, in the middle of a shift or at the end of the shift.
  • If an employee is in such a remote location that the employee would not reasonably be able to reach a polling station during voting hours, then the employee is not entitled to any time off.
  • An employee who is given time off is entitled to be paid his/her regular wages for the time off.

If an employer fails to comply with the Election Act, an employer may be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both.