While there are no federal laws that mandate employers to provide employees time off designated for voting, most states prohibit employers from taking actions like disciplining or firing an employee who takes time off work to vote. Some states require employers to allow a certain number of hours of time off so an employee can vote. And some states also require payment to employees for voting leave.
In New York, employers are required to give up to two hours paid leave to vote to employees who do not have four consecutive non-working hours between the polls opening and closing, and who do not have “sufficient” non-working time to vote. Employees must request the leave between two and ten days before Election Day. The employer may decide whether the leave is to be taken at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift. Employers must conspicuously post this rule in the workplace ten days prior to the election.
In general, most state voting laws provide that the employer:
- May ask employees for written requests prior to taking time off for voting,
- Can specify a time when employees are permitted to take voting time off,
- Is not required to give paid time off (if voting polls open for at least two hours outside of an employee’s regular shift schedule),
- May not include lunch/meal periods as part of the time off from work, and
- May not be disciplined or retaliated against for exercising their rights to take time off and vote.
Some best practices for household employers to consider include:
- Allowing your employee(s) requesting time off for early voting to do so just as you would for employees voting on Election Day,
- Double-checking the voting leave laws of your state, and
- Reminding your employee(s) about relevant policies and procedures
Contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.