During election season, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama and the television ad game show “Who is More Corrupt?” You might even be so caught up that you forget (or weren’t even aware of) the impact Election Day may have on your workforce. Now more than ever we seem to be living in an incredibly politically charged time plagued by extreme polarization. While you may be on high alert for political speech and conduct in the workplace, you should also be taking a look at your employee policies. Your employee voting leave policy to be exact. But why? Some, but not all states (i.e. Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to name a few), impose time off obligations and notice requirements for employee voting that could result in civil or even CRIMINAL penalties if you don’t comply.
So what are your obligations? Here is what’s required in the tristate:
|State||Time Allowed to Vote||Paid or Unpaid?|
4 Hours. Employers must allow employees time off work to vote on Election Day or during early voting, if the person has asked for leave before the day the person appears to vote or request an absentee ballot. However, the employer may specify the times between which the employee may leave work to vote. The employer cannot penalize the employee for taking time to vote, unless the person does not actually vote and does not have a valid reason for not voting.
Time off is required, but no specific limit is listed as long as the time available is “reasonable” time to vote. Ohio does not define what constitutes “reasonable time”. Nor does it specify whether an employer can require an employee to apply for voting time off prior to Election Day or designate the hours the employee may miss work.
|The Ohio attorney general interpreted O.R.C. § 3599.06 to require employers to pay only exempt (salaried) employees for voting leave. Employers, however, do not have to pay hourly, commissioned or piecework employees for voting leave.|
** You should review local laws, in addition to your individual state law, to be sure you are in compliance with voting leave rights.
Although this election season hasn’t quite ended, it’s never too soon to think about next season. Talk to a labor and employment attorney about reviewing your company handbook and assisting in drafting your Election Day Employee Policies. Happy Election Day!