In anticipation of Election Day 2013 (Tuesday, November 5), employers should ensure their policies on allowing workers time off to vote are in compliance with any applicable state and local requirements.
Some states have no such time-off requirements, while others require all employers to provide employees with time off to vote and impose civil or criminal penalties for non-compliance.
State laws also vary as to the amount of notice, if any, employees must provide to an employer of the employee’s intention to take time off to vote, whether employers can designate the hours taken off to vote and whether such time must be paid. Some jurisdictions even require postings to advise employees of their rights to take leave to vote. Additionally, some jurisdictions obligate employers to provide employees time off to act as election officials or to serve in an elected office.
Employers should ensure they are up-to-date on applicable requirements so they can properly address employee requests for time off while minimizing disruptions in the workplace.
The following is a sample of state requirements regarding voting time off:
Georgia – Georgia Code § 21-2-404 provides that an employee is entitled to leave if he or she has fewer than two (2) consecutive hours in which to vote between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his or her work shift or between the end of his or her regular work shift and the closing of the polls. An employee may be absent for up to two (2) hours.
Notice: The employee must provide reasonable notice.
Hours: The employer may specify the hours.
Paid: Leave is unpaid.
Hawaii – Hawaii Revised Statutes § 11-95 entitles employees who do not have two (2) consecutive non-working hours to vote while the polls are open to take time off up to two (2) hours (excluding any lunch or rest periods) to vote, so that the time taken when added to the non-working time totals two (2) consecutive hours when the polls are open.
Paid: Employees must be paid for time taken during working hours. If any employee fails to vote after taking time off for that purpose, the employer, upon verification of that fact, may make appropriate deductions from the salary or wages of the employee for the period during which the employee is entitled to be absent from employment.
Proof: Presentation of a voter’s receipt to the employer shall constitute proof of voting by the employee.
Illinois – 10 Illinois Comp. Statutes § 5/17-15 entitles employees who do not have two (2) consecutive non-working hours to vote while the polls are open to take up to two (2) hours off to vote when the polls are open.
Notice: The employee must provide notice prior to Election Day.
Hours: The employer may designate the hours.
Paid: Employees must be paid for time taken during working hours.
Maryland – Maryland Election Law Code §10-315 states that every employer in the state must allow employees who claim to be registered voters to be absent from work for up to two (2) hours on Election Day to vote if the employee does not have two (2) consecutive non-working hours to vote while the polls are open.
Paid: Employees must be paid for the up to two (2) hours of absence.
Proof: Employees must provide proof of voting or attempt to vote on a form prescribed by the State Board.
New York – New York Election Law § 3-110 states that an employee is entitled to a sufficient amount of leave time that, when added to his or her available time outside of working hours, will enable him or her to vote. Four (4) hours is considered sufficient time. An employee is excluded from leave if he or she has four (4) consecutive hours in which to vote, either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his or her work shift or the end of his or her work shift and the close of the polls.
Notice: The employee must provide notice of leave at least two (2), but not more than ten (10), days prior to the election.
Hours: The employer may specify the hours. Leave must be given at the beginning or end of the work shift, as the employer may designate, unless otherwise agreed.
Paid: Not more than two (2) hours may be without loss of pay.