Employers must grant their employees a paid holiday on Election Day

What happens if you don’t?

You’re denying them, an Indian citizen, their constitutional right to vote. Elections are when you see democracy in action, and so every vote counts. The Representation of the People Act, 1952, Section 135B discusses the ‘Grant of paid holiday to employees on the day of polls’. 

Therefore, on election day, every individual who works for a company, trade, industrial project, or other enterprise and is eligible to vote in state legislative assemblies or the House of Representatives must receive a holiday.

What would happen if an employer doesn’t make such provisions?

An employer faces a punishment of up to five hundred rupees if they refuse to declare a holiday or fail to pay the holiday grant for voting under subsection 3 of section 135 B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Do any other legislations talk about paid holidays for elections?

Yes,  there are 4

  1. The Representation of the People Act, 1951

The provisions mentioned below under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 give a clear mandate to an employer to grant a paid holiday for employees to cast their vote.

135B. Grant of paid holiday to employees on the day of the elections poll.—

  • Every person employed in any business, trade, industrial undertaking, or any other establishment and entitled to vote at an election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State shall, on the day of poll, be granted a holiday.
  • No deduction or abatement of the wages of any such person shall be made on account of a holiday having been granted in accordance with subsection (1) and if such person is employed on the basis that he would not ordinarily receive wages for such a day, he shall nonetheless be paid for such day the wages he would have drawn had not a holiday has been granted to him on that day.
  • If an employer contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), then such employer shall be punishable with a fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.
  • This section shall not apply to any elector whose absence may cause danger or substantial loss in respect of the employment in which he is engaged.
  • The National and Festival Holidays Act, under the Shops and Establishment Acts. 

2. National and Festival Holidays Act:

  • For Karnataka, a separate provision has been inserted in section 3A.

Grant of Holidays on the polling day, for the House of the People or to the State Legislative Assembly under The Karnataka Industrial Establishments (National and Festival Holidays) Act, 1963 and.

  • For Odisha, the provision inserted subsection 2 of section 3 stating that

‘In the event of any general election or bye-election to Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly, the date of every such election as notified by the Election Commission shall be allowed as a holiday of one whole day’

Similar provisions are also included in The Orissa Industrial Establishment (National and Festival) Holidays Act, 1969.

3. Shops and Establishment Act:

  • Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh:

As per the power vested under Section 10 (1) and Section 28 under The Punjab Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1958, the State Government or any officer empowered by the Government shall notify the poll day as a close day to the shops and establishment for exercising the constitutional rights of the employees.

4. The Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881

It also talks about the employers declaring a public holiday for election day as notified by the central government in the gazette.


Voting is the birthright of every Indian citizen, as acknowledged and championed by our very Constitution. If employers fail to empower this birthright by refusing to declare a holiday, then, they risk fines. The numerous judgments/announcements from Central & State Governments, Judicial bodies, Election Commissions, Labour Authorities & other government agencies are a testament to the gravity of the violation.

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