As Election Day is quickly approaching, many employees will be eligible to head to the polls, but will they have time to? Although there is not a federal law that allows employees leave time to vote, many states have enacted their own regulations to encourage individuals to cast their ballot. Employers should review their voting leave policies to ensure that they are in compliance with state law requirement.
Voting laws vary amongst each state. Some of the common requirements are, but not limited to:
- Voting leave can be paid or unpaid
- Employers must give a certain amount of time for employees to vote, such as 2 hours for example
- Workplace posters be posted in a common area for all employees to see, so employees are notified of their leave eligibility
- Amount of notice an employee must give to their employer of their intention to vote
If mandated regulations are not followed and enforced, some states can impose fines and/or penalties, which is why having an understanding of the law is imperative to business owners and leadership teams. All Tilson employers and employees have access within their Online HR Portal (under General Documents, State, Poster) to view their state(s) voting leave laws, if applicable, outlined in the state specific handbook addendum, and required postings. Or, click here to view a quick fact sheet about each state’s voting leave laws.
Even in states where there is no leave obligation, employers may want to consider creating a voting leave policy. The company would have discretion to determine the amount of time off, if it would be paid or unpaid, and other details appropriate for the organization. Some staff may have a busy family life outside of work, live in rural areas far from polling sites, or may even work another job, so enacting this policy could encourage employees to participate in civic activities and boost employee morale. If a policy is created, employers should ensure that team members are aware of the new leave so that they make take part in it, if they wish to vote during work hours.
Business leaders may also take part in other initiatives to help get their employees to the polls on Election Day or early voting days. Such proposals can include:
- Provide staff with voting material and resources: This may contain how to register to vote, voting registration deadlines, and voting locations. The information can be communicated via an all staff email, monthly newsletter, or companywide meeting.
- Offer flexible scheduling on Election Day: Not all staff may take part in early voting, so consider reducing or cancelling meetings on this day, to maximize productivity, when employees have returned from voting.
- Encourage early voting: Some work environments may be busier than others, and can be hectic when not fully staffed, so it could be helpful for companies to support employees heading to the polls in advance.
Each business if different and so are its needs. The leadership team should evaluate if the above initiatives makes sense for their organization.
While Presidential elections only happen every four years, it is easy to forget or overlook specific leave laws that employees may be entitled to. Remember to review state specific laws for all locations that your business is located in, consider creating a voting leave policy if your company is lacking on, and finally contemplate initiating other voting initiatives.