Voters are entitled to four consecutive hours free from work to vote during advance voting or on Final Voting Day. Voting hours during advance voting are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time and on Final Voting Day are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time.
This does not necessarily mean four hours off work. It means that there must be a four-hour period free from work during voting hours. Time off may be at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift, or unnecessary if normal working hours already provide enough time free from work to vote. For example, if a shift ends at 4 p.m., or does not begin until noon, the employee is not entitled to any time off for voting purposes. Employers can decide when their employees can take time off to vote.
It is an offence if an employer deducts your pay or penalizes you for taking time off to vote. You are entitled to your regular compensation for any hours not worked during this time.
Employers and employees are encouraged to discuss how staff can exercise their right to vote to ensure that the requirements of the Election Act are met.
There are exceptions to the general rules outlined above. For example, if a voter is in such a remote location that they would not be able to reach any voting place during voting hours, they are not entitled to any time off for voting.
If your employer does not provide you with the necessary time off for voting, you may contact Elections BC. Elections BC will phone the employer or fax a letter to them outlining their obligations under the Election Act. You must provide the name, address, phone number and/or fax number of the employer.
Failure to comply with section 74 of the Election Act is an offence and, upon conviction, an employer may be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not longer than one year, or both.
Contraventions of the Election Act should be reported in writing to the Chief Electoral Officer.
Chief Electoral Officer
PO Box 9275 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9J6