Time Off for Voting—Yea or Nay?

Does everyone in your workforce have enough time to vote—enough non-work hours while the polls are open—on November 8? If you’re in doubt, you may want to check what your state laws say, if anything, about time off for voting.

The federal government leaves it up to states to determine whether, by law, employees should be guaranteed time to get to the polls. A majority of states do have such a law, although the amount of time (one, two, three or four hours) varies. Some states say employees must tell their employers ahead of time that they need time off for voting, and some say employers can ask employees to provide written proof they voted.

In some states, employers face fines and even jail time for failing to give employees time to vote.

States that don’t address the issue are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. North Dakota “encourages” employers to make sure workers have a chance to vote. In the state of Washington, all ballots are cast by mail.

View a full rundown of state laws on the FindLaw State-by-State Time Off to Vote Laws resource.

Of course, some employers voluntarily provide paid leave to vote—21% of Employee Benefits Survey 2016 respondents said they offer time off for employees to vote.

I personally prefer to get my vote in first thing in the morning. Expect to see me proudly sporting an “I Voted” sticker at the office on November 8.

Chris Vogel, CEBS
Senior Editor—Publications at the International Foundation