Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Although federal law does not require giving employees time off to vote, many state laws do, especially if the employee’s work hours do not allow enough time for voting.
State laws on this vary widely. For example, some states require that employers post notice about voting and taking time off; some have a maximum number of paid and/or unpaid hours of leave for employees to vote; some require employees to give advance notice for taking time off to vote; some require the time-off if the employee’s schedule does not permit time to vote while polling places are open; some states require employees to meet certain requirements—of voting age, for example.
- Be aware that if an exempt (from overtime) employee takes time to vote, you cannot reduce his or her pay. This can jeopardize the worker’s exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Be aware that employers may not interfere with a person’s right to vote – that also includes disciplining or terminating an employee for taking time off to vote.
How Can I Find the Law for My State?
- Go to your state’s website and do a search for “time-off for voting.” You can also look at your state’s department of labor website. Many have FAQ sections that may cover time off for voting.
- Call your local government; they may be able to help you understand state law.
- This law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP provides a chart on state voting laws (this should be considered information only; not legal guidance).
Can I Just Work With My Employees to Determine a Schedule so Everyone Has Time to Vote?
You should really look at your state and local laws first. Depending on your business, the number of employees and employee schedules, it may make sense to offer paid time off for all employees who are eligible to vote and coordinate a schedule that works for everyone.
This is just an overview and is for informative purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Consult your experts to be aware of federal, local and state regulations and exceptions.
Mary Dunlap, CFP®
Mary Dunlap Consulting