As Election Day approaches, employers should be aware of laws that affect the campaign and voting activity of their employees. State law allows and disallows certain campaign and Election Day activity, and employers should be cautious that corporate policies do not run afoul of campaign finance laws.
In the days and weeks leading up to Election Day, employees should not be allowed to participate in partisan or candidate campaigns on company time. This prohibition includes allowing employees to distribute candidate literature on company property.
Companies are permitted to participate in ballot issue or levy campaigns, if they choose. In this case, employees may campaign on company time, but efforts must be nonpartisan. Employees may also use corporate resources to support these campaigns, as long as that use is within whatever company policy is in place to support an issue campaign.
In addition, employers may place literature or a poster about a state or ballot issue in public space for customers and clients to see. Any literature that is posted must be truthful and must also contain a disclaimer clearly identifying the campaign committee.
With respect to contributions, employees should be permitted to make voluntary contributions to a political cause, but employers should be careful not to require or reward political giving, and to not coerce employees to make a contribution.
On Election Day, state law prohibits any employer from interfering with an employee’s efforts to vote. This means that employers need to give employees a reasonable amount of time to vote.
While the law does prohibit employer interference with Election Day voting, this does not necessarily mean that every employee must be given time off work to vote. Some employees are not “electors,” and most employees have an opportunity to vote before or after work. Considerations may need to be given for employees who work extended shifts or whose polling location is far from work.
Similarly, employers should allow employees to serve as an election official. There is no requirement to pay employees while they are off work for this service, but employers may grant leave or pay employees if they choose. Whatever policy they choose, employers should be careful to ensure that the policy is applied equally to all employees, regardless of political party affiliation.
The policies of individual companies may vary depending on nuances of each workplace. Additional legal review to ensure policies are in compliance with state law may be necessary.