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Are You Required to Give Employees Time Off to Vote?

As a small business owner, you may offer types of paid or unpaid time off to employees. But when election day rolls around, do you give employees time off to vote? Read on to learn about offering time off to vote, state requirements, and whether you can refuse voting leave.

Giving employees time off to vote

You may feel responsible for encouraging employees to vote. However, you might not be able to afford to give employees time off for voting leave.

Federal law does not require employers to give employees time off to vote. However, the majority of states have time off for voting laws. Some states may also require employers to offer employee compensation for voting time, while others do not.

State laws on time off to vote

Time off for voting rights varies from state-to-state. Understand what voting time off laws and policies your state has in place.

Thirty states require time off to vote. Some of these states also require that you provide paid time off to vote.

Twenty states do not have any time off to vote laws. Some of the states that do not require time off to vote include Idaho, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia.

In some cases, there could be a legitimate reason why a state does not offer time off to vote. For example, Oregon is a vote-by-mail state that gives citizens the option of voting in-person. Since many individuals in Oregon cast their vote via mail, the state does not have laws regarding voting time off.

Other states, like North Dakota, may not have a law for time off to vote. But, they do recommend employers give employees time to vote.

Some states require employers to display a time off to vote poster. In California, employers must visibly post voting leave rules 10 days before the election.

If your state does not require time off to vote, consider offering it to employees. Regardless of whether or not you opt for paid time off, giving employees time off to vote shows you care. And, it sets an example to employees to fulfill their civic responsibility to vote.

time off to vote

Time off laws by state

Depending on the state, hours usually vary anywhere from one to three hours of time off. For example, Colorado state law requires employees to receive up to two hours off to vote.

Other states, like Alaska, may not specify a time frame. States with no given time period typically list the amount of time as a “reasonable amount of time” to vote.

Review the chart of states and their requirements for time off to vote below:

State Time Off to Vote? Time Allowed to Vote Paid/Unpaid
Alabama Yes One hour Unpaid
Alaska Yes As long as it reasonably takes to vote Paid
Arizona Yes Three hours Paid
Arkansas Yes As long as it reasonably takes to vote Unpaid
California Yes Two hours Paid
Colorado Yes Two hours Paid
Connecticut No N/A N/A
Delaware No N/A N/A
District of Columbia No N/A N/A
Florida No N/A N/A
Georgia Yes Two hours Unpaid
Hawaii Yes Two hours Paid
Idaho No N/A N/A
Illinois Yes Two hours Unpaid
Indiana No N/A N/A
Iowa Yes Three hours Paid
Kansas Yes Two hours Paid
Kentucky Yes Four hours Unpaid
Louisiana No N/A N/A
Maine No N/A N/A
Maryland Yes Two hours Paid
Massachusetts Yes First two hours after polls open Unpaid
Michigan No N/A N/A
Minnesota Yes As long as it reasonably takes to vote Paid
Mississippi Yes As long as it reasonably takes to vote N/A
Missouri Yes Three hours Paid
Montana No N/A N/A
Nebraska Yes Two hours Paid
Nevada Yes One to three hours Paid
New Hampshire No N/A N/A
New Jersey No N/A N/A
New Mexico Yes Two hours Paid
New York Yes Two hours Paid
North Carolina No N/A N/A
North Dakota No N/A N/A
Ohio Yes As long as it reasonably takes to vote Paid for salaried employees and unpaid for hourly, commissioned, or piecework employees
Oklahoma Yes Two hours Paid
Oregon No N/A N/A
Pennsylvania No N/A N/A
Rhode Island No N/A N/A
South Carolina No N/A N/A
South Dakota Yes Two hours Paid
Tennessee Yes Three hours Paid
Texas Yes As long as it reasonably takes to vote Paid
Utah Yes Two hours Paid
Vermont No N/A N/A
Virginia No N/A N/A
Washington No N/A N/A
West Virginia Yes Three hours Paid
Wisconsin Yes Three hours Unpaid
Wyoming Yes One hour Paid

*Some states may have certain exceptions or additional requirements. Check with your state for more information.

Refusing voting leave

Prohibiting time off to vote can be detrimental to a business. Some states may issue penalties for refusing voting leave to employees, such as fines.

Even if your state does not have penalties, refusing time off for voting can tarnish your business’s reputation. Your employees and community might not agree with your decision. And, it may impact the way others view you and your business.

To learn more about your employer responsibilities and time off to vote laws, check with your state.

Looking for a simple way to track employees’ time off for voting? Patriot’s online time and attendance software lets employees clock-in and clock-out online. And, the software integrates with our payroll software. Try both for free today!

This article has been updated from its original publication date of October 17, 2016.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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