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Northwest Territories employer obligations on election day

Of the eight Canadian provinces and territories that have passed laws calling for fixed-date elections, five provincial / territorial general elections are to be held in October every four years.

The next territorial election in the Northwest Territories is scheduled for Monday, October 3, 2011. Employers have certain obligations to employees under the Northwest Territories’ Election Act. The Northwest Territories follow a system of fixed election dates, whereby the Legislative Assembly may not sit for a period longer than four years after the return of the writs. Polling day for a general election must be the first Monday in October, four years after the last general election. Dissolution of the 16th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories occurred on September 4, 2011. The territorial general election runs from September 5 until October 3, 2011.

Under the Act, an employee who is eligible to vote must be allowed three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting his or her vote. Employers whose employees have three consecutive hours of their own time available during polling hours need not offer additional time for voting. If, however, an employee does not have this time available, the employer, upon request, must allow the employee enough time off with pay to provide those three consecutive hours to vote.

This year, voting hours on election day will be from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time. Employers have the right to decide when during the day is most convenient for granting any necessary time off. It is also important to note that employers are not required to take into account an employee’s travel time to vote.

Employers may not make deductions from an employee’s pay, require the employee to take a vacation day or sick day, or otherwise impose any penalty for the time an employee take off work to vote.

An employer is guilty of an offence who refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence or in another way, interferes with the granting to an elector in his or her employ, of the consecutive hours for voting provided in the Act. They will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonement for a term not exceeding one year, or both.

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 15 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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