'All workers must be given time off to vote'
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has advised that all employees should be allowed time off to vote tomorrow.
Legal Officer at the Ministry, Dian Thompson Clarke, said according to the Representation of the People (Leave and Symbols) Regulations of 1944, all employees should be given the stipulated time to cast their ballots.
"The Regulation provides that the employer should permit his employee to be absent from work for three hours, in addition to the normal meal hour. That will amount to approximately four hours for the day," she outlined.
These provisions, however, do not apply to workers who commence work on election day at or after 10:00 a.m. or conclude work before or at 2:00 p.m.
Thompson Clarke pointed out that the regulation does not address whether time off should be given, even if the worker chooses not to vote, and urged workers to use their discretion.
"It [the regulation] only speaks to the employer allowing each employee the time off to vote. It is up to the employee's discretion if he or she is not going to vote to be present for work," she said.
Thompson Clarke added that for the purpose of productivity, a worker may choose to make up for the lost hours by entering into an arrangement with his employer to work overtime and to be paid accordingly, but that he or she should not be penalised for being absent from work for those [voting] hours.
"I do not think they should be asked to make up for the time, but if for productivity purposes they have to continue some production line or something, I think it is up to the employer to compensate that worker for those extra hours that would be spent beyond the regulated time of work," she said.