Human Resources News & Insights

Election Day: Be careful about state time-off laws

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There are no federal regs requiring employers to give workers time off to vote. But your state laws may well do so. Are your managers prepared to shuffle staff to cover Nov. 2?

Nineteen states have no specific laws concerning employee voting. Twenty-three states give workers paid time off to cast their ballots.

Here’s a state-by-state rundown:

  • Alabama: Employees can take time off to vote in any election for which the employee is qualified and registered to vote, unless the employee’s work hours commence at least two hours after the polls open or end at least one hour before the polls close. The employer may determine what hours are available for the employee to vote.
  • Alaska: Employees without sufficient time to vote may take off as much time, with pay, as needed to enable voting, unless there are two hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their normal working hours or two hours between the closing of the polls and the end of their normal working hours.
  • Arizona: After applying to take leave in order to vote, employees with less than three hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their normal work hours or the end of their normal work hours and the closing of the polls may take paid leave from work at either the beginning or end of a shift for such an amount of time that provide three consecutive hours in which to vote.
  • Arkansas: Employers must create schedules so that each employee will have the opportunity to vote.
  • California: Voters may take time off at the beginning or end of a shift to allow for sufficient time to vote, with up to two hours of that time being with pay.
  • Colorado: With prior notice to an employer, employees may take up to two hours off of work for the purpose of voting. The employer may specify the hours the employee will take off, but the period must fall at the beginning or end of the work period if the employee so requests. There is no leave available if there are three or more hours between the time of opening and the time of closing of the polls during which the voter is not required to be on the job.
  • Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Georgia: Employees that give reasonable notice to their employers have two hours to vote in any election for which they are qualified to vote. If the hours of work of such employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least two hours prior to the closing of the polls, however, the time off for voting is not available.
  • Hawaii: All voters are entitled to up to two hours off from work to vote, excluding lunch breaks and rest periods, unless a voter has a period of two consecutive hours between the opening and closing of the polls during which they are not scheduled to be at work. Time is paid upon proof of voting.
  • Idaho: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Illinois: Every employee is entitled, after giving notice, to two hours off work, provided that the employee’s working hours begin less than 2 hours after the opening of the polls and end less than 2 hours before the closing of the polls.
  • Indiana: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Iowa: Any voter who does not have three consecutive hours in the period between the time of the opening and the time of the closing of the polls during which they are not required to work may take as much time off of work as necessary to give then three consecutive hours in which to vote.
  • Kansas: Any registered voter may leave work for a period up to two hours to vote. If the polls are open before or after the work shift, however, the voter may only take such time off that, when added to the amount of time before or after work that the polls are open, does not exceed two hours.
  • Kentucky: Employees may take four hours to vote. Employers may specify which hours the employee can take off.
  • Louisiana, Maine: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Maryland: Every voter may take two hours off work so long as the employee does not have two hours of continuous off-duty during the time that the polls are open.
  • Massachusetts: No employee of a manufacturing, mechanical or mercantile establishment must work during the first two hours after the polls open if the employee applied for a leave of absence during this period.
  • Michigan: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Minnesota: Employees may take the morning off work for the purpose of voting.
  • Mississippi: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Missouri: An employee may, with prior notice to their employer, take three hours off work to vote if there are not three consecutive hours when the polls are open during which the employee is not required to be at work.
  • Montana: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Nebraska: Employees who do not have 2 consecutive hours when not required to be at work during polling hours are entitled to up to 2 paid hours leave to vote. Pay cannot be deducted if the employee gives notice in advance of Election Day. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • Nevada: Employees for whom it is impractical to vote before or after work are entitled to 1 – 3 paid hours, depending on the distance between work and polling station. The employee must request leave in advance. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • New Hampshire: None, but if a person must be physically present at work or in transit to and from work from beginning to end of polling hours, he or she may apply to vote by absentee ballot.
  • New Jersey: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • New Mexico: Employees whose work day begins within 2 hours of the polls opening and ends less than 3 hours before polls close are entitled to up to 2 paid hours leave to vote. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • New York: Employees who do not have 4 consecutive non-working hours between polls opening and closing, and who do not have “sufficient” non-working time to vote, are entitled to up to 2 hours paid leave to vote. Employees must request the leave between 2 and 10 days before Election Day. The employer can specify whether it be taken at beginning or end of shift. Employers must post this rule conspicuously 10 days prior to election.
  • North Carolina: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • North Dakota: The law “encourages” employers to establish a program to allow an employee to be absent for the purpose of voting if the employee’s work schedule conflicts with voting during the time polls are open. This is voluntary for employers. There is no guaranteed right to be absent.
  • Ohio: Employers cannot fire or threaten to fire an employee for taking a reasonable amount of time to vote. Paid only for salaried employees.
  • Oklahoma: Employees who begin their work day less than 3 hours after polls open and finish less than 3 hours before polls close are entitled to 2 hours leave to vote (or more if distance requires). The employee must give notice the day before Election Day and cannot have pay reduced if proof of voting is provided. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • Oregon, Pennsylvania: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Puerto Rico: Election day is a legal holiday in Puerto Rico and most employees have the day off work. Employers running a business in operation on election day, however, must establish shifts allowing employees to go to the polls between 8am and 3pm.
  • Rhode Island, South Carolina: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • South Dakota: Employees who do not have 2 consecutive hours when not required to be at work during the hours polls are open are entitled to up to 2 paid hours leave to vote. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • Tennessee: Employees who begin their work day less than 3 hours after polls open and finish less than 3 hours before polls close are entitled to up to 3 hours paid leave to vote. The employee must request leave by noon the day before Election Day. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • Texas: Employees must be given time to vote without any penalty if polls are not open for 2 consecutive hours outside the employee’s work day.
  • Utah: Employees who do not have 3 consecutive hours when not required to be at work during the hours polls are open are entitled to up to 2 paid hours leave to vote. The employee must request leave before Election Day. The employer can set the time for leave, but employee requests for leave at the beginning or end of work hours shall be granted.
  • Vermont, Virginia: No specific law requiring time off to vote.
  • Washington: Employees who do not have 2 free hours (excluding meals and breaks) during their work day in which polls are open, and who receive their work schedule with insufficient time to request an absentee ballot, are entitled to up to 2 paid hours leave to vote. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • West Virginia: Employees who do not have 3 hours of their own time during polling hours are entitled to up to 3 paid hours leave to vote. The employee must demand leave in writing at least three days before Election Day. In certain essential operations, employers receiving written request can schedule the hours when employees will be allowed to leave to vote.
  • Wisconsin: Employees are entitled to up to 3 hours leave to vote. The employee must request leave before Election Day. Pay can be deducted for time lost. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.
  • Wyoming: Employees who do not have 3 consecutive non-working hours while the polls are open are entitled to 1 paid hour leave (excluding meal times) to vote. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.

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