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Published 3 October 2023 | 2 min read
Why is it important for employers to give their employees time to vote?
New Zealanders have a right to vote in general elections. However, some employees may not have a reasonable opportunity to vote before starting work. As an employer, you need to give your employees time to vote on the polling day of a general election.
Failure to give your employees time to vote could have negative consequences for your business. You could face fines, damage to your reputation, and even legal action.
The law around voting leave is complex. There are different rules for employees who provide essential work or services and those who do not. There are also special rules for employees on boats and ships.
So, what are the key takeaways you need to know about general election voting leave in New Zealand?
Situation 1: You have employees who are eligible to vote, but they haven't had the chance to do so before starting their workday.
New Zealand employment law mandates that you provide your eligible employees with time to vote on the polling day of a general election. It's important to note that early voting, while popular, doesn't always constitute a reasonable opportunity to vote, as there can be various reasons why an employee might not take advantage of it.
Situation 2: Your employees are engaged in essential work or services, making it challenging to grant them time to vote.
If your employees are involved in essential work or services, you must still allow them a reasonable opportunity to vote during the day. You can't deduct their pay for up to two hours they spend off work. This flexibility ensures that even essential workers can exercise their right to vote.
Situation 3: Your employees don't provide essential work or services, but you're unsure of the specifics around granting them time to vote.
If your employees don't provide essential work or services, they must be allowed to leave work by 3 pm on polling day without any deductions from their pay. This ensures that they have ample time to cast their votes.
Situation 4: You have crew members on a ship in port during a general election, and you're uncertain about their entitlements.
If a ship is in port on polling day during a general election, the crew members who are eligible to vote must be allowed to go ashore and vote. Even if they aren't currently registered to vote, they have the right to go ashore, register, and vote simultaneously.
In New Zealand, giving employees time to vote on election day is not only a legal requirement but also a fundamental aspect of workplace fairness and democracy. As a responsible employer, it's your duty to ensure that your employees have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right without undue obstacles.
By adhering to the guidelines outlined in New Zealand's employment laws, you not only fulfill your legal obligations but also demonstrate your commitment to upholding democratic values and ensuring that your employees have a voice in the country's future.
For any further inquiries or to seek professional advice on employment matters related to voting leave, you can contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 366 4034