Do Employees Get Time Off to Vote?

If an employee requests time off to vote, does the worker have to make accommodations? Although the logical answer is "yes," it depends on...



Voting day is just around the corner, which means employers should prepare to accommodate leave requests if work hours prevent employees from participating in their civic duty. “Does that mean I have to grant employees time off to vote?” It depends on where you’re located, as voting laws vary by state. (Check your state’s laws here.)

In addition to knowing your local state’s voting laws, employers should create an Election Day Policy that encompasses these five tips:

Encourage time off requests in advance.

Unlike illnesses or accidents, voting can be planned ahead of time. Encourage employees to submit their time off requests far enough in advance for your team to make schedule adjustments.

Stagger shifts.

By receiving time off requests in advance, you can determine if you need to stagger shifts or account for individuals using their voting leave so that appropriate staffing levels are maintained while still adhering to state laws. In most states, employers can designate the time of day when employees can be absent to vote during the workday. The employee is generally required to give advance notice of the need for leave, and employers can generally require proof of voting.

Be neutral and consistent.

To avoid claims of discrimination or voter disenfranchisement, be sure to consistently grant time off in a neutral manner to all employees without regard to race, gender, age, religious affiliation, national origin, disability, or any other distinguishing characteristic that may be perceived as discrimination.

Post a notice of employee voting rights.

Although this isn’t a requirement in all states, it’s still a good idea. New York, for example, requires employers to post state rules conspicuously at least 10 working days prior to an election and keep the posting in place until the polls close on election day. California has a similar provision.

Spell out the applicable voter leave laws. 

Be sure to include the voting leave laws that govern the areas where you have employees in your voting leave policy.

As a best practice tip, try to allow employees up to two hours of paid time to vote if they have insufficient time to do so during their regular workday. Progressive companies with the highest employee morale tend to go beyond what is legally required when it comes to policies such as voting leave. And if you're in an area with long voting lines and can't spare your employees to wait it out, consider allowing them to leave a few hours early on Election Day so they can at least be in line before the polls close.

For more information or help with forming an Election Day Policy, please contact your certified Stratus HR experts. Not a current Stratus client? Contact us today to learn how to change that.

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