Election Day is November 6, 2012. With less than two weeks to go, you may be wondering if you must give your employees time off to vote during the workday. While federal law does not require voting leave, 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.
Even if your state does not require voting leave, you may decide that it’s a good idea to establish a voting leave policy for your workplace. Or you may wish to provide a more generous voting leave policy than the state minimum.
Keep the following considerations in mind when drafting a 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 you choose to fix the number of hours of permitted leave time, consider whether a majority of your employees will need to drive a substantial distance to reach their voting sites. If so, allow for adequate time to get to and from the polls and factor in the time they may spend in line waiting to vote.
Apply the policy consistently and fairly to all employees.
Decide whether the leave will be paid or unpaid. 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.
Notify all employees of the policy. This can be done by email or by posting a notice where all employees can see it. And don’t forget to add the policy to your employee handbook if your company distributes one.
For More Information
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” subfolder under “Employee Leave” in the left-hand navigation. There you’ll find a convenient summary of the applicable state law and helpful links to government sources.
And why not take a moment now to download our free Personnel Recordkeeping Guide? It's a great resource for keeping on top of your federal HR recordkeeping obligations!
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