As the mid-term election draws near, employers need to be aware of their obligations and the voting rights of employees.
While no federal law requires employers to provide paid or unpaid time off to employees to vote during working hours, there are 32 states with voter leave laws. For several states, including Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming, the voter laws go even further requiring employers to provide paid leave if employees do not have sufficient time to vote before or after the polls close due to work schedules. An additional 11 states allow for voting leave “without loss of pay.” Employers may require advance notice if employees intend to use leave to vote.The link below will assist employers in determining their obligations, including a state-by-state chart of voting leave laws. Multi-state employers, if required to provide paid leave to employees in specific states, may want to consider whether to extend the same leave benefits to all employees regardless of location. Nevertheless, as we approach November 6th, we encourage employers to express their support of employees exercising their right to vote and to reiterate their voting leave policies.
Employers should consider issuing a statement such as:
[Company name] believes every employee should have the opportunity to vote in any federal or state election, general or primary. All employees are encouraged to vote before or after normal working hours. In those instances, where scheduled work hours will not allow adequate time to vote, employees may request in advance up to XX hours of paid time off [indicate if paid or unpaid] during the workday to vote.
Note that if voting leave is unpaid, employers must take care to observe the limitations under the Fair Labor Standards Act for docking exempt employee pay for partial day absences.
Employers may want to further state:
Employees who voluntarily serve as election officials at polling sites will be permitted to take the required time off to serve in this capacity. It is incumbent on employees who are chosen to act as election officials to notify their managers in advance of their need for time off to accommodate the necessary rescheduling of work assignments. Time engaged as an election official should be charged to paid leave or leave without pay in accordance with those policies.
Employers should be aware of the laws that apply to them and be prepared to comply with any applicable requirements.
Have additional questions about your state's voter registration policy? Reach out to your OneDigital consultant today.