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What employers and employees need to know about election day in Nova Scotia

Richard Jordan and Folu Adesanya

The 2021 Nova Scotia general election will be held on August 17, 2021.

With the election looming, many Nova Scotians will be wondering the same question: “Am I entitled to any time off of work in order to vote?”

The short answer: maybe.

Voting polls in Nova Scotia are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on election day.

Section 131 of the Nova Scotia Elections Act provides that any employees eligible to vote are entitled to three consecutive hours off from work while the polls are open in order to cast their ballot on election day.

Therefore, for an employee who works from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the employee would still have three consecutive hours off work while the polls are open in order to vote (5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.). The employer need not provide the employee with any additional time off work.

However, where an employee’s working hours do not permit three consecutive hours off work to vote while the polls are open, the employer must allow the employee such additional time with pay as necessary to provide the three consecutive hours. The Elections Act is clear, though, that when the three hours occurs is at the discretion of the employer.

For example, if an employee is scheduled to work a shift from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the employer could choose to either (a) permit the employee to begin their work day at 11:00 a.m. (so the employee has three consecutive hours from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to vote) or (b) leave work at 5:00 p.m. (so the employee has three consecutive hours to vote from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.).

Certain employees involved in the operation and dispatch of trains, buses, motor transport, ships or aircrafts are exempt from the requirement to have three consecutive hours off work in order to vote, if taking the three consecutive hours would interfere with the scheduled operation of those services.

An employer who refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other way interferes with the use by an employee of the three consecutive hours for voting, or fails to pay the employee, is guilty of an offence under the Elections Act.


This update is intended for general information only. If you have questions about the above, please contact a member of our Labour and Employment group.

 

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