With Election Day fast approaching, now is the time to review your policies and practices on voting leave. While there is no federal law that requires employers to grant time off for employees to vote, at least 30 states and some local jurisdictions have voting leave requirements. Below is an overview of voting leave rules and best practices.
While state laws on voting leave vary widely, generally, these laws address:
- Eligibility. Many states make time off to vote contingent upon whether the employee has sufficient non-work time to cast their ballot while others entitle employees to time off regardless.
- Schedule. In some cases, employers may be permitted to specify the hours that employees can be absent for voting purposes.
- Duration. Some states provide for a specific amount of time off (ranging from one to four hours) while others call for "reasonable" or "sufficient" time off to vote. In jurisdictions that don't specify how much time off to provide, employers should use their best judgment. Consider the hours polls are open, the time it takes for the employee to vote, and his or her work schedule.
- Pay. Most states require all, or a portion, of voting leave to be paid.
Here is a summary of the requirements for some of the larger states with voting leave laws:
In California, employers must provide employees with time off to vote if they lack sufficient time outside of work to do so.
- Schedule. Unless the employer and employee agree otherwise, the time off must be provided at the beginning or end of the employee's shift, whichever allows the most time for voting and the least time away from work.
- Pay. Up to two hours of the time off to vote must be paid.
- Notice. Employers must post a notice about employees' voting leave rights at least 10 days before every statewide election. Employees must give employers at least two days' notice of their intent to take time off to vote.
In Texas, employers must provide sufficient time off for employees to vote, unless the polls are open for two or more consecutive hours outside of the employee's working hours. The time off must be paid.
In New York, employers must provide employees time off to vote if they lack "sufficient" time outside of normal work hours to do so.
- Eligibility. In general, "sufficient" means the employee has four consecutive hours of non-work time when the polls are open.
- Pay. At least two hours of the time off must be paid.
- Schedule. Unless the employer and employee agree otherwise, the leave must be taken at the beginning or end of the employee's shift.
- Notice. Employers must post a notice about employees' voting leave rights at least 10 days before every statewide election. Employees must give at least two days' notice of their intent to use leave.
Check your state law for more information on your requirements.
Best Practice Considerations:
- Early voting. Several states permit individuals to vote prior to Election Day. In these states, employers should treat early voting the same way as voting on Election Day. In other words, if an employer is required to grant time off to vote, they should do so for early voting as well.
- Documentation. To help demonstrate compliance with the law and to track leave, retain a copy of voting leave requests and keep a record of when voting leave was provided.
- Proof. To prevent abuse, you may request that employees provide proof that they voted, such as a voter's receipt. In some states, pay for time spent voting may be contingent upon the employee's ability to provide such evidence.
If you provide time off to vote, have a written policy that complies with applicable laws and addresses eligibility, pay, scheduling and notice requirements. Additionally, train supervisors on the policy and on how to respond to voting leave requests.