With voter turnout expected to be higher than ever at the polls for 2018 mid-term elections on November 6, some employers may wonder about their obligation to employees.
While there is no federal law mandating time off for voting, nearly half of U.S. states provide a voter leave law (either paid or unpaid).
Employers in states with paid voter leave laws (Illinois and Minnesota, for example) should familiarize themselves with the leave law before employees request time off to vote. Some of these laws have specific details related to requesting of time and how much time must be paid.
Other states (such as Michigan and Indiana) don’t require employers to give time off, however, it is a best practice to encourage employees to make time to vote. Employers may want to consider adding a policy addressing time off for voting, depending upon their specific situation.
If you are an employer that operates in more than one state, experts suggest that you either maintain one policy that complies with all state laws or implement a general policy that denotes local laws will prevail.
Regardless of the laws in your state, managers can take a proactive role by talking to their staff before Tuesday. To maximize office coverage, find out if some employees can vote on the way in to work, some on the way home from work and, depending on logistics, maybe some during an extended lunch period. Advanced planning can be key in making your employees’ work day smoother both in and out of the office.
Not sure of the laws in your state(s)? Would you like assistance in creating a voter leave announcement or a policy for your employee handbook? Contact your HR experts at BCN Services to discuss your individual situation.
Sue Kester, HR Manager