It’s voting season and one thing is certain. If you’re an employer you’ll soon hear the inevitable question: “Can I take time off to vote?”
In fact, considering current economic and social conditions, managers and HR personnel across the nation may be hearing that question more frequently than during typical mid-term elections. Be ready by checking out this Manager’s FAQ Guide to time off for voting employment issues:
Are employees eligible to receive time off from work to vote?
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That depends. Employees must first be eligible to vote. That means they must be 18 or older and a U.S. citizen. In some jurisdictions, employees may only be eligible for time off to vote if their work schedule prevents them from visiting the polls before or after their shift.
How much time off for voting should be allowed?
In jurisdictions that permit employees to vote during scheduled work hours, one to three hours is the norm. What’s more, employers may be allowed to require that the staff member take that time at the beginning or end of the shift.
Do employees need to provide advance notice?
Many states permit companies to require employees to provide advance notification if he or she intends to take time off from work to vote. How much notice? Like so many other voting and employment issues, it varies from state to state. In some cases, employees may only need to notify an employer the day before the election; while in other jurisdictions staff may need to provide up to three or four days notice.
Do I have to pay employees who take time off to vote?
Many states require employers to pay employees for a limited amount of time; however, the amount of time varies, so check with your local time off to vote laws to get a definitive answer.
Can I discipline employees who go to the polls during working hours without giving me required notification?
So the administrative assistant decides to exercise her civic duty to vote without exercising her responsibility to provide advanced notice. Even if you find the absentee employee leaves you in a lurch, avoid taking disciplinary action. Although laws vary from state to state, many do not allow a company to discipline or fire an employee who takes time off to visit the voting booth.
The polls open in a few short days. Don’t find yourself scrambling for answers the Monday before Election Day. Take the time now to learn about local time off to vote laws. And remember…make time to get to the polls yourself!
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