Voting is one of the most important things you can do as an American citizen. It is the way your voice gets to be heard by those who are in charge of issues that matter to you and your quality of life.
But one thing you don’t often get a voice in is whether or not you have to work on Election Day, the day when you exercise your right to vote.
So it begs the question: Are employers required by law to provide PTO so you can vote?
What Does the Law Say?
There are no federal laws that require employers to allow any time off – paid or unpaid – to vote on an election day. Instead, these mandates are left on a state-by-state basis. States can also vary widely on giving time off and whether that time will be paid.
There are currently 29 states that require employers to allow time out of the workday to vote. According to Workplace Fairness, 26 states currently have laws requiring employers to provide some type of time off so employees can vote.
Stipulations surrounding this time vary per state. Some mandate that the 2 hours that are provided take place before or after the employee’s shift only. Meanwhile, some permit a specific amount of time any time during the day. It also varies widely if this time off is paid and if employees have to provide proof they have voted.
States that do not have such laws on the books often don’t need them. For example, Oregon is a state that votes through the mail system. Oregonians have the option to vote in person, but if they have to work on election day, arrangements can be made to vote in an alternative manner. Other states may allow early voting or open polling centers early and keep them open late, providing ample time for employees to work voting into their schedule without affecting work at all.
When handling an employee who works in one state yet lives in another, generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that the state that governs them in the workplace is the state in which they work.
The bottom line is that you want to make sure you are aware of the time your state requires you to give employees and follow those guidelines as a minimum.
What if an Employee Wants to Work at a Polling Center?
Even in states that require employers to provide time to vote, the time is usually always limited and not an entire day. Therefore, you should advise employees that if they want to volunteer at a polling center on election day, vacation time or a personal day should be used to get time away from work to do so.
What Is Best Practice When it Comes to Giving PTO to Vote?
If you happen to live in a state that does not require time off to vote on election day, it is good practice to make it company policy to allow paid time off to vote. Within that policy, set limits you would like to see or mandate documentation of voting during that time. However, it says a lot about your company if you are a model of a business that values the democratic process and removes obstacles that stand in the way of people voting.
Have more questions about what you must and should do in human resources? Complete Payroll can help you out. Check out our updated and informative blog page to find articles for all of your burning questions and more.