With Election Day quickly approaching on November 6, 2012, employers must be mindful of employees’ right to take time off from work to vote. The following is an overview of Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. § 6.76) regarding this issue:
- Employers must allow employees who are entitled to vote to be absent from work for up to three successive hours while the polls are open. This provision applies regardless of whether the employee would appear to have sufficient time to vote either before or after his or her scheduled shift.
- Employees who intend to be absent during work for voting are required to notify the employer before election day of their intended absence.
- Employers may designate what time of day the employee takes the absence.
- Employers are not required to pay the employee for the time he or she is absent.
- Employers may in no way penalize an employee for taking time off from work to vote (other than not paying the employee).
- Employers are not required to affirmatively provide notice of this right to employees; however, in some instances doing so could enhance the employer’s operational planning.
- Employees must be eligible Wisconsin voters to qualify for this entitlement, but be aware that bordering states from which Wisconsin employees may be drawn may have similar statutes.
Remember, however, that collective bargaining agreements or other work policies might be more beneficial or grant greater rights than those outlined by Wisconsin law.