With Election Day just around the corner, private employers should carefully review state voting leave laws to ensure they are in compliance. Voting leave laws vary by state, and depend on where the employees are actually located. We have prepared a quick-reference summary of the voting leave laws in those jurisdictions that have them, which you can access here.
There is no federal law requiring employers to give employees time off to vote. However, the majority of states – and even some local ordinances – mandate voting leave time, especially when an employee does not have sufficient time before or after work to vote. Exempt employees who take time off to vote during the day should not be docked any pay; reducing an exempt employee’s pay for time taken to vote could jeopardize their overtime exemption. Now that remote working has become the norm for some companies, it is important to remember that the law where the employee is located generally governs the employment relationship.
As noted above, some states require employers to provide paid time off to vote, including for early or absentee voting, while other states require time off but allow same to be unpaid. State voting leave laws also vary on the amount of time that must be provided and whether the employer can require the employee to take the time off at the beginning or end of the employee’s workday. Some states require employers to provide time off to employees who serve as election officials. Several states even require postings that advise employees of their voting leave rights. In addition to state law, local ordinances should be reviewed for compliance with voting leave rights.
As of the date of this post, 30 states and the District of Columbia have some form of voting leave laws. Employers in states without voting leave requirements may still choose to let employees take time off to vote on Election Day if they have not voted early and they do not have a reasonable amount of time outside of their scheduled work hours to vote.
Reed Smith’s employment attorneys are available to answer any questions you have regarding voting leave laws to help ensure compliance.