You Have the Right to Vote: But, do I Have to Give you the Time off? Pay you? Maybe.
Person putting a ballot into a ballot box.

With primary season well underway, and the general election approaching in November, it is important to know whether you are required to give employees time off to vote; And, whether that time off must be paid or unpaid. Currently, there is no federal law requiring employers give workers time off to vote. However, 30 states and the District of Columbia have some type of law regarding an employee’s right to time off from work in order to vote. Some states allow employers to require advance notice that an employee is going to take time off. At least two states, New York and California, also require employers post notice of employees’ rights to take time off to vote no less than ten days before an election. Several states have laws prohibiting employers from threatening or terminating an employee for voting, or not voting, or attempting to influence an employee’s vote.

It is very important to be aware of the difference in each state’s law and what is required to comply, for both the employer and the employee, because even if your business is in a state that does not require giving time off to vote, some of  your employees may live in a state that does, therefore they are covered by that state’s laws. This is one of many considerations employers need to appreciate when permitting employees to move or work remotely from another state.

Notably, the laws can vary dramatically from state to state on both requirements for employers to provide time-off and to pay for time-off. Ohio and the surrounding states are a perfect example.

  • Ohio – Ohio requires private employers give employees “a reasonable amount of time” off to vote on election day, or to serve as an election official. Time off must be paid for salaried employees only. Employers cannot discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for taking “reasonable amount of time” to vote.
  • Kentucky – Kentucky employers must provide “reasonable time allowed, but not less than four hours” during normal business hours of the office of the clerk for employees to vote. The time off is unpaid. Employees must provide notice to employers one day before the election if they intend to take time off to vote and must provide proof of voting. Employees that take time off but do not vote can be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania – No current laws require employers to give workers time off to vote.
  • West Virginia – West Virginia employers must give up to three hours to employees to vote when the polls are open. However, employers don’t have to provide time off if an employee has three consecutive hours free before or after their shift. The time off is paid if the employee votes. Employees must provide a written request to their employer at least three days before the election if they intend to take time off. If the employee fails to vote, or votes on their free time, they may be subject to a wage deduction for the time absent from work.

This snapshot of the immediate tri-state area demonstrates how the law can differ on what “a reasonable amount of time” to vote may be, and whether employers have to offer a set amount of time to vote to having no requirements at all. Time off, and how much time, is only one part of the question. Whether the time off is paid or unpaid is another issue.

It can be quite difficult for employers to keep track of every law affecting their workforce, especially, with employees working across the country. The political environment is stressful enough, do not add headaches or questions about what you have to do for your employees on Election Day to your plate. Let us answer those questions for you.

If you have any questions or concerns about any requirements for employers related to voting in any  state, Bricker Graydon’s Labor & Employment attorneys are here to assist to ensure you properly handle any employee’s request to exercise their right to vote and to shape the future!

*Tommy Rogers is a law clerk and not licensed to practice law.

Search this Blog

Media Contact

Recent Posts

Jump to Page

Necessary Cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytical Cookies

Analytical cookies help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage. We access and process information from these cookies at an aggregate level.