Do employers have to allow employees time to vote?

Must employers provide time to vote?
Must employers provide time to vote?

With the election less than a week away the question of voting time for employees is always asked. Not all companies have a state policy. If the company is less than four years old the owners may not have thought of the issue. Here is some guidance for employers and employees for that matter on what can or should be done to allow employees an opportunity to vote.

Is there a specific time requirement?

I went and voted early this week. Due to computer difficulties it took over two hours, rather than the 15 minutes I expected. I put a big hole in my morning and I was late getting to work. Fortunately I am my own boss and I allowed myself the opportunity to make it up by working in the evening. But not everyone has that capability. Unfortunately there is not consistent legal precedent for time off for voting.

Common practice

Many companies make it a practice to allow time off, either at the beginning of the workday or the end of the workday, so that employees can go and vote. That assumes that there is not enough time in their schedule to go by the polling place to cast their ballot. Many companies make it a practice to pay for this voting time as a measure of their civic duty.

State Law

Some states require employers to allow employees the opportunity to vote, but state laws are not consistent across the country and there is no federal law dictating voting time. For example in my home state of Georgia the law says:

Each employee in this state shall, upon reasonable notice to his or her employer, be permitted by his or her employer to take any necessary time off from his or her employment to vote in any municipal, county, state, or federal political party primary or election for which such employee is qualified and registered to vote on the day on which such primary or election is held; provided, however, that such necessary time off shall not exceed two hours; and provided, further, that, if the hours of work of such employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least two hours prior to the closing of the polls, then the time off for voting as provided for in this Code section shall not be available. The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may absent himself or herself as provided in this Code section.
O.C.G.A. 21-2-404

If you are unsure what you state regulation is refer to this guide, State-by-State Time Off to Vote Laws.

Your policy

Make sure you have a stated policy which has been communicated to your employees. Even if you have had a policy forever, you may have added employees since the last election and they need to understand what they can or cannot do. If it were me, I would allow them the two or three hours to vote even in a state that has no law. I would even be inclined to pay them for exercising their civic duty.

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