As the U.S. moves through another election year, you’re likely to see a few headlines about how America gets out to vote. One of the ideas that will undoubtedly be discussed again is whether workers should get time off to vote—Some people even argue election day should be a federal holiday.  

While the national debate will surely continue, how much you hear about employees having time off for voting will likely depend on the state where you live. Since there is no federal requirement to give time off for voting, each state has arrived at its own stance and rules.  

The Voting Landscape 

Roughly half of all states (and Washington D.C.) have some requirement regarding paid time off for voting. Another six states have similar rules but don’t require the time off to be paid. In the remaining 21 states, there is no legal requirement to provide any time for voting. According to the International Foundation’s Paid Leave in the Workplace: 2024 Survey Report, about 43% of U.S. employers offer paid time off for voting. 

The laws granting paid time off for voting vary significantly by state. Some states only require that time off be given to salaried employees, some allow the employer to demand proof of voting, and some only grant time off if the employee is unable to vote outside of work hours. Obviously, employers need to be aware of the rules in their state and provide the time guaranteed by law. 

But regardless of what an employer must do, there is a lot of opportunity to turn time off for voting into a promoted benefit. Even if they choose not to vote, employees will certainly appreciate having it as an option. This isn’t to say employers should give time off for voting—It’s their choice so long as it complies with state law. However, if a company offers time off for voting (even if the state requires it), they can still get employees to appreciate it as a benefit. 

A Little Can Go a Long Way 

If a company does offer time off for voting, here are some ideas to help make it a benefit that employees value: 

  • Get a plan together: Whatever a company decides to do, it needs to start planning how the time off will actually work. The benefit will need to be compliant with state laws, and human resources will need to decide how to record time off for the new benefit. 
  • Advertise it: A company should let employees know the time they can have off for voting. Reminders should be sent out weeks before so that employees can schedule their voting to avoid disrupting the workday. If a company wants early notice from employees intending to use time off for voting (state law may not allow this), it must actively promote the deadline for providing notice. 
  • Never stigmatize: Employees should want to use their benefits. A company should make it clear that it is happy to provide the benefit and that no one will judge employees for leaving to vote (or choosing not to vote). 
  • Designate enough time: State laws for voter time off typically set a minimum number of hours (usually two or three) the employee can take. If a company voluntarily provides the benefit, it should ensure that employees have adequate time. Offering “time to vote” but then restricting it to just 30 minutes may prove insufficient, especially when commute times and congested polling locations could make it take longer. 
  • Have a late start: For companies looking to provide time off to vote without causing complications, simply starting the day late could be a good option. Opening a couple of hours late (or closing early) guarantees that all employees have an opportunity to vote and ensures a complication-free payroll. 
  • Include everyone you can: Though it might be easier for a company to only give the benefit to certain departments, choosing who gets time to vote can create the perception of favoritism (or even political discrimination). If some employees truly cannot leave work during voting hours, companies should allow them to take time off to register for an absentee ballot. 

Jonas Leyrer, CEBS

Favorite Foundation Product:  Financial Skills for Life: an online learning course that apprenticeship programs and companies can offer to their younger workers to ensure they have a foundational knowledge of personal finance and benefits.
Benefits-related Topics That Interest
Him Most:  Personal finance, investing and retirement planning.
Personal Insight: 
In his free time, Jonas enjoys playing board games, running and watching professional soccer matches.

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