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Do We Have to Provide Employees Time Off to Vote?

HR Question:

We received a request from an employee for time off to vote. My state doesn’t require voting leave, but this employee works in a different state, and we have employees located across the country. What do I need to do here?

HR Answer:

If an employee of yours works in a state with a voting leave law, you will need to comply with that law. Most states require that employers provide at least a few hours of employee time off to vote, and many of those states require some or all of that time to be paid. In New York, for example, all registered voters are allowed to take off as much time as is necessary to enable them to vote and are entitled to be paid for up to three of those hours. You’ll also want to check any applicable voting leave laws for notice requirements and for specifications on when during an employee’s shift the time off should be given. You can find all this information on the HR Support Center by entering “voting leave” in the search bar. Workplace Fairness also has an online interactive tool to allow you to look up voting laws by state.

To keep things simple and fair, you might consider implementing a single company policy that meets or exceeds all applicable state requirements. That way there’s no confusion about what your policy is, employees in states without leave requirements won’t feel like they’re being excluded, and everyone in your company will have the opportunity to vote. Some employers even go the extra mile by cancelling all meetings on election day or making that day a paid holiday.

Thank you to our HR Support Center for providing the response to this edition of our HR Question of the Week.

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