Manitoba: Time off for Voting During Upcoming Provincial Election
Manitoba has scheduled its 43rd general election on October 3, 2023, in order to elect members to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. Employees in Manitoba shall be entitled to take Paid Voting /Election Leave in order to cast their votes and unpaid time off if they are a candidate in the upcoming elections.
Employer Election Leave Obligation – The Manitoba Election Act (EA) grants employees 3 consecutive hours free from work to vote. The time off to vote must be paid time off. An employer must not reduce the pay of an employee or impose any other penalty for time taken off work to vote in accordance with the EA. If the employee’s hours of work do not provide 3 consecutive hours to vote, their employer must, at the employee’s request, give the employee such additional time off work as is necessary to provide those 3 consecutive hours.
Eligibility – Employees have to be at least 18 years old on election day, have resided in Manitoba for at least six months immediately before election day, and be a resident of the electoral division in which the election is being held in order to be eligible to vote and receive these 3 hours of paid time off.
Timing of Leave – These hours free from work must be during voting hours. Every regular voting station must be open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on election day.
For instance, if an employee eligible to vote is scheduled to work on election day from 9 a.m.. to 5 p.m., there is no requirement to provide that employee with any time off during their working hours since they will have 3 consecutive hours free from work to vote (from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.).
Other Unpaid Leave Obligations – Employees who are a candidate, appointed as an election official, or named as an election volunteer by a candidate or registered political party shall also be entitled to leave without pay to participate or volunteer during the election.
If the employee falls under any of the above categories and makes a request in writing for time off at least 5 days before the time off is needed, the employer must grant the leave.
At the end of the leave, the employer must reinstate the employee to their previous position or a comparable one with no less pay and benefits. The employment during the leave is considered continuous for vacation entitlements and benefits.
Employer’s Takeaway – Manitoba employers must be prepared to provide their employees with the required time off in order to participate in the upcoming provincial elections. Employers are encouraged to review existing leave policies to ensure compliance with the Election Act.