HUMAN RESOURCES

Are You Required to Let Your Employees Vote?

A majority of states now mandate that companies provide time for employees to cast their ballots.
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While there are no federal laws requiring companies to give time off from work to vote, a majority of states do have rules designed to ensure employees can make it to the polls on Election Day.

Laws vary by state, but if polls are not open two or three hours outside employees' regular shifts, employers are generally required to provide them with reasonable time off to vote. Lunch and other rest periods may not be included as part of the time off for voting.

The state laws are designed to ensure employees are not disciplined or retaliated against for taking time off to vote. Many states also require that companies pay employees for time they are absent while voting.

Most states allow employers to specify the time of day employees may take off to vote. Generally, employers may require employees to request time off in advance of Election Day.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, a Washington-based small-business lobby, has compiled a list of voting laws by state, which is summarized below:


Alabama

If the polls open at least two hours before the employee starts work or close at least one hour after the employee ends work, the employer is not required to offer time off. Otherwise, employees are allowed time off not to exceed one hour.

Statute does not indicate whether time off is paid or unpaid.

Alaska

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed sufficient time off to vote.

Paid

Arizona

If polls are not open three consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed three hours to vote.

Paid

Arkansas

Employers must schedule sufficient time on election days so that employees may vote.

Statute does not indicate whether time off is paid or unpaid.

California

Employees are allowed two hours at the beginning or end of the regular working shift to vote.

Paid

Colorado

If polls are not open three consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed two hours to vote.

Paid

Connecticut

None

Delaware

None

Florida

None

Georgia

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed two hours to vote.

Statute does not indicate whether time off is paid or unpaid.

Hawaii

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed two hours to vote.

Paid, with proof that a vote is cast

Idaho

None

Illinois

Employees are allowed two hours to vote.

Unpaid

Indiana

None

Iowa

If polls are not open three consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed three hours to vote.

Paid

Kansas

Employees are allowed up to two hours to vote.

Paid

Kentucky

Employees are allowed up to four hours to vote.

Unpaid

Louisiana

None

Maine

None

Maryland

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed up to two hours to vote.

Paid with proof of voting

Massachusetts

Voters employed in mechanical, manufacturing or mercantile businesses allowed time off during the first two hours after the polls have opened only if an application for absence has been submitted.

Statute does not indicate whether time off is paid or unpaid.

Michigan

None

Minnesota

Employees allowed time off during the mornings of election days.

Paid

Mississippi

None

Missouri

If polls are not open three consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed up to three hours to vote if a request for time is made prior to Election Day. The employer may specify the time of day the employees may take time off to vote.

Paid

Montana

None

Nebraska

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed up to two hours to vote if a request for time is made prior to Election Day. The employer may specify the time of day employees may take time off to vote.

Paid

Nevada

If polls are not open a "sufficient" amount of time outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed one to three hours to vote if a request for time is made prior to Election Day. "Sufficient" time depends on the distance between work and the polling site. The employer may specify the time of day employees may take time off to vote.

Paid

New Hampshire

None

New Jersey

None

New Mexico

If the polls open at least two hours before the employee starts work or close at least three hours after the employee ends work, the employer is not required to offer time off. Otherwise, employees are allowed up to two hours. The employer may specify the time of day employees may take time off to vote, but it may not include lunch or rest hours.

Paid

New York

If polls are not open four consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed  "sufficient time" to vote if a request for time is made prior to Election Day. The employer may specify whether employees must take the time at the beginning or the end of the shift. Employers must post a conspicuous notice of employee rights at least ten days before Election Day.

Paid up to two hours

North Carolina

None

North Dakota

The law encourages employers to provide time off to vote when an employee's regular work schedule conflicts with the times polls are open.

Policy is voluntary and does not indicate whether time off is paid or unpaid.

Ohio

The law forbids employers from firing an employee who takes a reasonable amount of time to vote.

Paid for salaried employees

Oklahoma

Every employer must allow its registered voters up to tow hours off to vote on Election Day, during the time when the polls are open.

Paid

Oregon

None

Pennsylvania

None

Rhode Island

None

South Carolina

None

South Dakota

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed to take time off to vote.

Paid

Tennessee

If polls are not open three consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed time to vote not to exceed three hours if a request for time is made before noon the day before Election Day. The employer may specify when during the shift the employee may take time off to vote.

Paid

Texas

If polls are not open two consecutive hours outside the employee's regular shift, the

employee is allowed reasonable time to vote.

Paid

Utah

If polls are not open three hours outside the employee's regular shift, the employee is allowed up to two hours to vote. The employer may specify when during the shift the employee may take time off to vote.

Paid

Vermont

None

Virginia

None

Washington

If polls are not open two hours outside the employee's regular shift (not including meal or rest breaks), the employer must arrange employee work time on Election Day so the employee is allowed reasonable time to vote.

Paid

Washington, D.C.

None

West Virginia

Employees are allowed no more than three hours to vote if a written request for time off is made at least three days prior to Election Day.

Paid

Wisconsin

Employees are allowed no more than three hours to vote if the request for time off is made prior to Election Day. The employer may specify when during the shift the employee may take time off to vote.

Unpaid

Wyoming

Employees may take one hour to vote.

Paid

Last updated: Nov 6, 2006




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