Tuesday’s Election Day. Do you have to offer your employees time off from work to cast their ballots?
Generally, the answer is no — if they have sufficient time before and after their scheduled shift to make it to the polls. But beware: There’s a surprising number of rules and regs around this issue, and they can vary widely from state to state.
Consider this, from the employment law firm Jackson Lewis:
Some states have no time-off requirements, while others require employers to provide some or all employees with time off to vote and impose civil or criminal penalties for non-compliance.
State laws also vary as to the amount of notice, if any, employees must provide to an employer of the employee’s intention to take time off to vote, whether employers can designate the hours taken off to vote and whether such time must be paid. Some jurisdictions even require postings to advise employees of their rights to take leave to vote. Additionally, some jurisdictions require employers to provide employees time off to act as election officials or to serve in an elected office.
Whew. To further illustrate how crazy and varied these rules can be, here’s Jackson Lewis’ summary of voting-time-off rules for a sampling of states:
Employees are entitled to an amount of leave time that, when added to the voting time available to him or her outside of working hours, will enable them to vote. The employee is excluded if he or she has sufficient nonworking time to vote.
Notice: The employee must provide notice two working days in advance of the election if, on the third working day prior to the election, the employee knows or has reason to believe he or she will need time off in order to vote.
Hours: Time must be taken at the beginning or end of the work shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from work, unless otherwise mutually agreed.
Paid: No more than two hours of the time taken off for voting shall be without loss of pay.
Eligible voters are entitled to be absent from work for up to two hours for the purpose of voting on Election Day unless the employee has three or more nonworking hours to vote while the polls are open.
Hours: The employer may specify the hours of absence, but the hours must be at the beginning or end of the work shift, if the employee so requests.
Paid: No more than two hours.
Employees who do not have two consecutive non-working hours to vote while the polls are entitled to take up to two hours off to vote when the polls are open.
Notice: The employee must provide notice prior to Election Day.
Hours: The employer may designate the hours.
Paid: Employees must be paid for time taken during working hours.
Every employer must allow employees who claim to be registered voters to be absent from work for up to two (2) hours on Election Day to vote if the employee does not have two consecutive non-working hours to vote while the polls are open.
Paid: Employees must be paid for the up to two hours of absence.
Proof: Employees must provide proof of voting or attempt to vote on a form prescribed by the State Board.
Employees are entitled to a sufficient amount of leave time that, when added to their available time outside of working hours, will enable them to vote. Four hours is considered sufficient time. An employee is excluded from leave if he or she has four consecutive hours in which to vote, either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his or her work shift or the end of his or her work shift and the close of the polls.
Notice: The employee must provide notice of leave at least two, but not more than ten days prior to the election.
Hours: The employer may specify the hours. Leave must be given at the beginning or end of the work shift, as the employer may designate, unless otherwise agreed.
Paid: Not more than two hours may be without loss of pay.
An employee is entitled to three successive hours to vote.
Notice: The employee shall give notice of the intended absence before election day.
Hours: The employer may specify the hours.
Paid: Leave need not be paid.
FindLaw.com has assembled a reference chart of all state voting time off laws.
One final thing: Local laws may come into play, as well. Better check those, too.