The presidential election is just days away and while federal law does not require that employers provide employees with time off to vote, most states do mandate some type of leave to vote. State laws requiring voting leave vary considerably in terms of an employer’s obligations, especially with respect to:
- The amount of leave time required;
- Whether the leave must be paid; and
- What notices, if any, the employer must provide to its employees.
Our State Laws section provides the information you need to determine how much voting time, if any, you’re required to give your employees on Election Day. Simply click on your state of interest and find the “Voting Leave” item under “Employee Leave” in the left-hand navigation.
Review Your Company Policy
Keeping state law requirements in mind, consider the following when creating or reviewing your voting leave policy:
- Make sure your leave provisions are clear and unambiguous. Will your policy apply only to federal and state elections? What about primaries and local elections?
- If allowed, will you designate a fixed number of hours of permitted leave time? If so, consider whether a majority of your employees will need to drive a substantial distance to reach their voting sites and allow for adequate time to get to and from the polls (and for standing in line).
- Decide whether the leave will be paid or unpaid, if not specified by law. Will your company only pay up to a certain number of hours or for the entire time the employee is on leave? (Keep in mind that exempt employees generally must be paid their full salary amount.)
- To minimize disruptions to the workday, consider whether your employees should provide you with advance notice of their intent to take voting leave so that you can stagger leave times and minimize the possibility that too many employees will be out at the same time.
Apply your policy consistently and fairly to all employees and be sure to notify all employees of the policy. This can be done by email or by posting a notice where all employees can see it, as well as including the policy in your employee handbook, if your company distributes one.