Voting & The Workplace
Every November voting season approaches us. While it is best to keep politics out of the workplace, ensuring you are following your state laws when it comes to your employees voting rights is very important.
Do you have to pay your employee when they go to vote?
Does your employee have the right to leave work to vote?
Can you terminate an employee for arriving late or leaving early due to voting?
There are a total of 21 states that require employers to pay employees if they vote during their scheduled shift. Some states do have stipulations such as an employee does not have to take time off if they have 3 consecutive non work hours at the beginning or after their shift when polls are open.
If you are in Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, or Wyoming, it is best to look at your local state laws on when time off to vote is paid and when it is not. You can view the state statutes and more information by clicking here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/taking-time-off-voting-jury-29708.html
Since each state has different hours, it's best practice to check your local polling station hours. Most states do not require you to give employees time off paid or unpaid during the workday as long as they have 2 to 3 consecutive hours before or after their shift to vote and polling station hours match up.
If the polling stations in your area are open from 8 am to 5 pm, and that employee is scheduled to work 8 am to 5 pm, you will need to give that employee a reasonable amount of time to vote.
While employees do have voting rights, they must let the employer know if they plan to vote during working hours. Some states like Nebraska specifically state employees may request to leave and vote on or before election day. States like Maryland and Oklahoma allow the employer to ask for proof from the employee that they voted. The “I Voted” sticker can serve as evidence for the employee.
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Terminating an employee for voting outside of approved hours is a gray area based on which state they are employed. Employers should look at the schedules of their employees and compare those schedules with the local voting poll hours. It may be best to adjust schedules to ensure your employees have time to vote.
It is best for all employers to remember the most significant voting days. Educating employees on the best ways to vote may be a helpful tool for ensuring your operations continue to run smoothly.
Some helpful links to use to help your research are:
The US voting website
Your local state website