I Am Voting…If I Can Get the Time Off

It is finally in full swing…the 2016 presidential election. One candidate is nominated and one is waiting to be nominated.  Not only is this a presidential election year but also we are voting for the entire House and 1/3 of the Senate.  So how does this affect payroll (other than we need to vote, just like anyone else)?  Why time off to vote, of course.  The questions always comes up each election cycle, do I have to give my employees time off to vote?  If I do, then how much time? The answer falls under wage and hour laws.  And as usually happens, it is left up to the individual state to make the regulations. It is amazing to me (a bit on my soapbox) that the largest democracy in the world does not have a federal law requiring employees time off work to vote.  But we don’t, simple as that.  So the employee’s right to have time off to vote depends on where they are voting, in what state.  Some states do not address the issue or have no laws or provisions requiring that an employee get time off to vote.  These include: District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana,  Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia and Vermont.  Connecticut currently does not have a provision but will have effect October 1, 2016.

States that do address the issue usually allow between two and four hours to vote.  The employee usually has to give advance notice to the employer.  However, usually if the employee has sufficient period of time to vote in their off hours, they then do not need to get time off to vote during working hours.  For example Illinois states that “the employee is to get up to two hours if the employee’s working hours begin less than two hours after the polls open and end less than two hours after the polls close”.

There are many websites that give voting rights information but I found one that concentrates just on time off to vote laws.  Check out FindLaw at http://www.findlaw.com/voting-rights-law.html for all the latest info on giving employees time off to vote.  I decided to blog on this today so my followers will have time to begin research and preparing their voting time procedures for the fall.  We will, of course, be providing a white paper on this topic in the fall to be sure to catch all the latest updates to the time-off rules for the November election.


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