Election Day is only a few weeks away and employers need to be prepared to handle requests from employees for time off from work to vote. Understanding the laws surrounding voting time can help you plan ahead and develop procedures for your company, so you can communicate your expectations to employees ahead of time.
Federal law does not require employers to provide their employees with time off to vote. However, many states have voting leave laws that allow employees to take time off to vote in certain circumstances, such as when there is insufficient time between the time the polls open and close within the state, and the time employees start and finish work. Some states even require that the time off to vote be paid. For example:
- In Utah, employees who do not have three consecutive non-working hours while the polls are open are entitled to up to two paid hours leave to vote. The employee must request leave before Election Day and the employer can set the time for the leave, but employee requests for leave at the beginning or end of work hours must be granted.
- In Wyoming, employees who do not have three consecutive non-working hours while the polls are open are entitled to one paid hour leave in order to vote in any primary, general or special election. The employer may designate the most convenient time for the employee to take voting leave, but they can not require the employee to use their meal period.
- In Idaho, there is no specific law requiring time off to vote.
We encourage employers to take circumstances into consideration when it comes to Election Day. For example, employees who did not request leave because they thought they had enough time to vote before work or while on their lunch break might be delayed by an unexpectedly large turnout. In such cases, disciplining late-returning employees might be seen as a form of retaliation for an employee’s exercise of voting rights, which is a violation of most voting-leave laws.
We have created a Voting Leave Laws by State Guide to help you get started. If you have questions about this or any other HR issues, contact an HR Business Partner at 1-800-748-5102.