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Understanding voting

Four hours to vote

Summary

On polling day, your employer must give you at least four consecutive hours to vote, with no reduction in pay or other penalty.

This four-hour period must be given during polling station hours on election day—from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. This does not include the time normally allowed for meals. Keep in mind that you need to request this time off in advance. Your employer will not provide it automatically. Furthermore, you are not eligible for additional time off if you only work a few hours on election day and, as a result, already have four consecutive hours available for voting.

For example, if you usually work from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., you may request that your employer allow you to start at 1:30 p.m. or leave work at 4:00 p.m.

Employer’s right

Your employer may also adjust your regular work schedule to allow you to vote. However, such changes must not result in a reduction in salary or amount to a penalty.

An employer may also ask employees wishing to take advantage of the four-hour period to submit a request within a reasonable time, so the necessary arrangements can be made. However, it should be noted that Élections Québec cannot provide proof that an elector’s name is entered on the list of electors or that an elector has exercised his or her right to vote.

Voting in advance

You can choose to vote in advance rather than on election day. However, your employer cannot force you to do so.

Who is entitled to this time?

Every person who works full or part-time is entitled to four hours to vote. This measure applies to all employers operating in Quebec as well as employers under federal jurisdiction.

Offences under the Act

An employer who refuses to grant this four-hour period to a member of their staff is liable to a fine. For a first offence, this fine may be:

  • From $1,000 to $10,000, if they are a natural person (for example, someone who is self-employed).
  • From $5,000 to $30,000, if they are a legal person (for example, a company).

Any employer who grants the leave but reduces their employee’s pay or penalizes them in another way is liable to this fine.

Waiver

An employee may expressly waive his or her right to a four-hour period for voting. Indeed, any elector is free to expressly waive it in whole or in part. For example, an employee could request only three consecutive hours to vote.

If you have any questions on this subject, please contact us.

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