Election Laws Require Time Off to Vote

A number of states require employers to give workers time off to vote, including voting in the presidential election on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.


According to CCH, a nationwide leader in labor and employment information, more than half of the U.S. states have laws that mandate time off to vote. Employers who do not comply face fines and even jail time.


The states that do not require employers to give workers time off to vote are: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Hersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.


In many states, voter’s rights law require that registered voters be given a specific amount of time off, when the polls are open, to vote. Usually, this is two or three consecutive hours.


“In many cases time off is only guaranteed if the employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to cast a ballot,” explains CCH Employment Law Analyst David Stephanides, JD. “However, the fact that early voting or vote-by-mail is available normally does not relieve the employer of the duty to provide time off on voting day itself.”


Suppose state law requires that John have 3 consecutive hours off to vote. John normally works 9 am to 5 pm, and the polling places are open from 6 am to 9 pm. Working his normal schedule, John has 3 or more consecutive hours off when polling places are open. So John’s employer would not be required to give him additional time off to vote. However, if John worked from 6 am to 8 pm on this day, the employer would be required to give John 3 consecutive hours off to vote. The employer could accomplish this by giving John 3 hours off in the middle of the day, or by letting John come in at 9 am or go home at 6 pm.


However, John’s employer would be in violation of the law if he required John to work 6 am to 8 pm on Election Day.


In total, 31 states have laws that require time off to vote. There is no federal requirement that employers give workers such time off.


In 24 states, employees must be paid for all or a portion of the time spent voting. In Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wyoming, employees must be paid for the hours off only if they actually vote. In Maryland, the employee must attempt to vote.


In 18 states, employees must make their intention to take time off to vote clear, ahead of time. In Iowa and West Virginia, that information must be presented in writing.



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