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featured image showing American woman in plaid shirt wearing "I Voted" sticker and looking to camera, standing proud in front of polling booths with US flag

Are Companies Required to Provide Time Off to Vote?

With another election day quickly approaching, it is refreshing to know that there are a growing number of employers that are providing employees with time off to vote. A recent publication by BusinessInsider.com reports that over 1300 companies have pledged to provide their employees with time off to vote, with some even providing pay. The question is, are companies required to provide time off to employees to cast their vote? And maybe the even bigger question, will that time be paid or unpaid? The answer is two-fold.

Employer Guidelines

According to SHRM, taking leave time to vote will often depend on whether you’re a salaried or hourly employee. If salaried, you are required to be paid for a full day without having your pay docked; however, your employer may still require you to use paid time off (PTO). Hourly employees on the other hand are not required to be paid for hours that they do not work under federal law, so they will be unpaid or will have to use paid time off (PTO).

Local Laws

It is important to note that most states and some local ordinances mandate voting leave time for employees, especially those who are unable to reasonably find sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. With regard to pay, state voting-leave laws vary on whether such time off must be paid or unpaid for nonexempt employees. In Nevada, employers are required to provide up to three (3) hours of paid time off to vote. We encourage you to verify your local laws and error in favor of the employee.

Benefits

To support both this patriotic duty and to create consistency for each election year, some companies are choosing to add a Time Off to Vote Policy to their handbooks. This policy would include guidance on leave procedures for employees that do not have sufficient time outside of their regular work hours to vote in an official government-sanctioned election. Additionally, it would specify if the time used will be paid or unpaid, and if employees must use leave time. Providing paid time off to vote, required or not, could be a great way to add value to the overall employee experience.   

If you would like more information about adding a Time Off to Vote Policy to your handbook, please contact us to learn more.

Lindsay Bradley, MBA, MSML, is a consultant with the HRinDemand team, a human resources company in Reno, NV, offering expert guidance and easy-to-use tools to help small businesses with employment regulations, compliance, employee relations, and company growth. 

Sources:

Society for Human Resource Management. (2020, Oct 2). Ask HR: Do I Need to Take PTO to Vote? https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/ask-hr-do-i-need-to-take-pto-to-vote.aspx

Society for Human Resource Management. (n.d.) Are we obligated to give employees time off from work to vote? https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/timeofftovote.aspx

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