Giving Employees Time Off to Vote? It May Be Required. A State-by-State Guide…

“Regardless of where employers operate, they should not discipline employees for exercising their right to vote or for serving as election workers. Many states prohibit firing or disciplining employees because they took time off to vote or to serve as an election worker.” (Littler)

Americans head to the polls next week. Whether they do it on company time depends on where they live: there is no federal law that requires employers to give their workers time off to vote, but a number of states do have such laws.

Culled from legal news and updates on JD Supra, here’s a state-by-state look at employer obligations with regard to voting:

Alabama:

“Employees are given ‘necessary’ time off to vote, not to exceed one hour. The employee must give reasonable notice to get the time off. However, if the polls open at least two hours before the employee starts work and close at least one hour after the employee ends work, the employer doesn’t have to give the employee time off.” (Miller & Martin)

Alaska:

“Employers are required to give an employee as much time off ‘as will enable voting,’ unless the polls are open for two non-working hours before or after the employee’s work shift.” (Sherman & Howard)

Arizona:

“Employers must allow employees up to three hours of time off for voting unless the polls are open three hours before or after the employee’s work shift. The total time off allowed is three hours, less the time the polls are open before or after work.” (Sherman & Howard)

Arkansas:

“Employers are required to ‘schedule the work hours of employees on election days so that each employee will have an opportunity’ to vote.” (Sherman & Howard)

California:

“If an employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote, the employer must provide enough time off that when added to time available outside of working hours, the employee will be able to vote. Unless otherwise agreed, the time off must be at the beginning or end of a shift, whichever allows the most free time to vote and the least time off from work.” (Sherman & Howard)

Colorado:

“Employers are required to give an employee two hours off to vote unless the employee has three consecutive non-working hours available for voting at the polls.” (Sherman & Howard)

Georgia:

“If polls aren’t open two consecutive non-working hours, an employee is allowed up to two hours leave to vote. Put another way, employees aren’t entitled to leave if their work schedules begin at least two hours after the polls open or end at least two hours before they close. The employee must give reasonable notice for leave. The employer can specify when it will give the employee time off to vote.” (Miller & Martin)

Hawaii:

“Employers are required to give an employee two consecutive hours off for voting unless the polls are open for two consecutive hours before or after the employee’s work shift.” (Sherman & Howard)

Illinois:

“Illinois requires employers to allow employees who are eligible to vote up to two hours of paid time off while polls are open (from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) on Election Day.” (Franczek Radelet)

Iowa:

“Employers are required to allow an employee up to three hours of time off for voting unless the polls are open three hours before or after that employee’s shift. The total time off allowed is three hours, less the time the polls are open before or after the shift.” (Sherman & Howard)

Kansas:

“Employers must give an employee up to two hours of time off from work to vote unless the polls are open for two hours before or after the employee’s work shift. The total time off allowed is two hours, less the time the polls are open before or after work.” (Sherman & Howard)

Kentucky:

“Employers must provide employees a reasonable amount of leave, but not less than four hours, in which to vote in an election, between the opening and closing of the polls (or up to four hours to request application or execute absentee ballot, on day appearing before clerk, during business hours)” (Dinsmore & Shohl)

Maryland:

“Employers must give an employee up to two hours of time off from work in order to vote, provided that the employee does not have two consecutive non-working hours for voting while the polls are open.” (Sherman & Howard)

Massachusetts: 

“Employers are required to grant an employee time off to vote during the first two hours after the polls open, if the employee requests time off during that period. Only those who are employed in a ‘manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment’ are eligible for time off under this provision.” (Sherman & Howard)

Minnesota:

“Employers are required to give employees ‘the time necessary’ to vote.” (Sherman & Howard)

Missouri:

“Employers are required to give an employee up to three hours off from work to vote unless the polls are open for three non-working hours before or after the employee’s work shift.” (Sherman & Howard)

Nebraska:

“Employers are required to give time off to vote to employees who do not have two consecutive non-working hours while the polls are open. This time shall be up to two hours but any non-working time the employee has while the polls are open may be subtracted.” (Sherman & Howard)

Nevada:

“Employers are required to give ‘sufficient time’ for employees to vote if it is impracticable for them to vote during non-working hours. An employee who works two miles or less from a polling place may take one hour; two to ten miles, two hours; more than ten miles, three hours.” (Sherman & Howard)

New Mexico:

“Employers are required to give an employee two hours off to vote unless the employee’s work day begins more than two hours after the polls are open or ends more than three hours before the polls close.” (Sherman & Howard)

New York:

“Employers are required to give up to two hours of paid leave to vote to employees who do not have four consecutive non-working hours between the polls opening and closing, and who do not have ‘sufficient’ non-working time to vote.” (Sherman & Howard)

Ohio:

“Employers must provide employees a reasonable time (a specific amount is not specified) in which to vote on election day. The law does not specify that the employer must pay the employee for time off to vote. Further, the law does not specify whether the employer may require that the employee apply for voting leave prior to election day or may specify the hours that the employee may be absent, but such parameters are not prohibited.” (Dinsmore & Shohl)

Oklahoma:

“Oklahoma law requires them to provide their employees up to two hours time off to vote during regular polling hours if they do not have sufficient time to vote before or after work on Election Day. To qualify, the employee must be a registered voter and notify the employer no later than the day before the election — either in writing or orally — if he/she needs time off to vote. It is then up to the employer to specify what time the employee may take off to vote.” (McAfee & Taft)

South Dakota:

“Employers are required to provide up to two consecutive hours during the work day for an employee to vote if the employee does not have two consecutive, non-working hours when the polls are open.” (Sherman & Howard)

Tennessee:

“Tennessee employees are entitled to take a reasonable period of time off to vote on election day. Tennessee law provides that they may take up to three hours, paid, if the work schedule does not permit them time to vote before or after work. In Tennessee, the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; if the employee’s shift starts three or more hours after the polls open or ends three or more hours before the polls close in the county where they vote, you do not have to allow them to take the time off.” (Fisher & Phillips)

Texas:

“Employers are required to allow an employee sufficient time to vote, unless the employee has two consecutive non-working hours in which to vote.” (Sherman & Howard)

Utah:

“Employers are required to give an employee up to two paid hours off to vote unless the employee has three or more non-working hours while the polls are open. The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent, however, if the employee requests to be absent at the beginning or end of a shift, the employer must grant that request.” (Sherman & Howard)

Washington: 

“Employers are required to arrange their employees’ schedules on election day so as to allow each employee a reasonable time, up to two hours, in which to vote. If an employee does not have two free hours during the day, not including meal or rest breaks, the employer shall permit that employee to take up to two paid hours to vote.” (Sherman & Howard)

West Virginia:

“Employers must provide employees up to three hours of paid leave between the opening and closing of the polls to allow the employee to vote in an election, provided the employee has submitted a written request at least three days before the election. No deduction may be made from the employee’s wages or salary for such leave unless the employee takes voting leave and elects not to vote.” (Dinsmore & Shohl)

Your state not listed? You probably aren’t legally required to give them time off to vote (but check here to make sure).

And finally, watch the following related video with Texas employment attorney Thomas Crane, via LXBN:

The updates:

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