Institutions that fail to approve leave for polls warned

The National Election Commission has announced that it is mandatory for employers to grant leave to employees who wish to cast their ballots in the General Election in terms of Section 122 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981.

Chairman of the Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said any person, being the employer of any other person who is entitled to vote in person at the Parliamentary Election to be held on 05 August 2020, shall, upon application in writing in that behalf made by such other person, grant such other person leave, for such continuous period as that person may deem sufficient to enable such other person to vote in person. 

The relevant Act states that leave for this purpose shall be granted for not less than four hours in duration without loss of pay. Section 722 (1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act stipulates that a statement setting out the names of employees granted leave on the written request of the applicants and the periods for which such persons have been granted such leave shall be conspicuously exhibited at the place of employment, he said issuing a press release.

Deshapriya further said according to the complaints received by the Election Commission, the following types of embarrassments were caused by employers for those who offered to avail these facilities during the last elections.

  1. Not accepting requests for leave to vote. 
  2. Not giving enough time to be able to vote.
  3.  Failure to pay for approved holidays.
  4. Inform the applicants to submit written evidence or official poll cards received by post in order to confirm that they are voters. 
  5. Warning that he/she will not be granted leave to vote and he/she may lose his job due to leaving the workplace for that purpose. 

The Chairman of the Election Commission pointed out that not granting leave requested by an employee for the purpose is an offense that can be prosecuted before the Magistrate Court and punished.

The District Returning Officers have been asked to inform the polling staff to return it to those concerned with the permission of the Senior Presiding Officer, if a voter notify, at the time of handing over the official poll card prior to tearing it off, that he/she require his/ her official poll card after casting the vote to be presented to the employer for approval of his/ her leave. 

If the employer does not grant leave for the voter to cast his/her vote in the above manner and if the Deputy / Assistant Commissioner of Elections of the District Elections Office is informed about this without delay, the complaint will be forwarded to the District Commissioner of Labor to guide the relevant institution in this regard. In addition, the District Election Office will also inform the relevant employer of the complaint. The Secretary to the Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labor Relations will take necessary steps to provide necessary advice to the District Assistant Commissioners of Labor in this regard, Dehsapriya added. (Colombo Gazette)

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