There is only one general provincial election scheduled in November 2011. The upcoming provincial election in Saskatchewan will take place on Monday, November 7. The one-month election campaign is now underway, and employers have certain obligations to employees under the Saskatchewan Election Act.
Under the Act, an employee who is eligible to vote must be allowed three consecutive hours for the purpose of casting his or her ballot. 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 make up three consecutive hours to vote.
This year, voting hours on election day will be from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. C.S.T. 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 taken off work by an employee to vote.
The penalty for preventing an employee from voting, or impeding or otherwise interfering with an employee’s right to vote, is a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or both.
Political leave of abscense
Employers can allow an unpaid leave of absence to employees who gain a term of political office. It is customary (but not guaranteed unless specified in the employment contract or agreement) to re-employ the employee in a comparable position on the expiration of the leave.
If the employee returns to work after the leave is over, it is customary to accrue seniority benefits during the leave. If however, the employee does not return to work, or the employer does not, at that time, have a suitable opening available to which the employee can return, the employee is deemed to have voluntarily quit at the start of the leave.
Saskatchewan is the only province that has legislative provisions related to this type of leave.
Employers who would like to provide such a leave should implement a policy indicating to employees their eligibility, entitlements and procedures that must be followed to apply for the leave, among other things.
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor