EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

State Voting Laws: Time Off for Employees

By Kris Janisch
Published Oct. 14, 2020

State paid leave voting laws

As voters hit the polls Nov. 3, multi-jurisdiction employers should keep an eye on state voting laws and paid time off for employees.

With the Nov. 3 election on the horizon, multi-jurisdiction employers should review state voting laws and whether employees may be entitled to paid time off to vote.

Thirty states have voting leave laws on the books, though they vary in terms of:

  • How much time an employee can take
  • Whether employees must give notice to employers
  • Whether employees may take time to vote based on their schedule and polling times
  • Whether the time off is paid
  • Penalties for employer violations

For the most part, the 30 states with voting laws allow an employee paid time off to vote. However, many states have provisions under which an employee may not take paid time off if they have a certain amount of time to vote outside work hours. Check state polling times to cross-reference.

Also, states without specific voting laws may have anti-retaliation laws regarding employers that try to influence whether a worker votes.

Below, we’ll take a look at these states and the requirements for employers.

Alabama

  • Employees must give “reasonable notice” to employers
  • Time off may not exceed one hour
  • Time off is not available if the employee starts work at least two hours after the polls open
  • Tome off is not available if the employee’s work ends at least one hour prior to the closing of the polls
  • Employers may specify when the employee can take time off to vote

Alaska

  • Employees may take as much time as needed to vote
  • The time off is paid
  • If an employee is not working for two hours while the polls are open, this does not apply

Arizona

  • Employees must give notice before Election Day
  • Time off is paid
  • Employers may specify when the employee can vote
  • If an employee has three hours before or after their shift to vote, this does not apply
  • Employers found in violation of the law are subject to a misdemeanor

Arkansas

  • Employers must craft schedules to give employees time to vote
  • Time off is unpaid
  • Employers found in violation can face fines up to $250

California

  • Employees can use as much time as needed to vote
  • Only a maximum of two hours is paid
  • Paid time only applies if the employee does not have time to vote outside working hours
  • Employers may require two days of advance notice for additional time
  • Employers may require the time to vote being taken at the beginning or end of a shift
  • Includes posting of notice at least 10 days prior to Election Day

Colorado

  • Employees must provide notice prior to Election Day
  • Time off is paid
  • Employees can take up to two hours to vote
  • Employers can specify when the employee takes time off
  • If an employee has three or more hours to vote between the start and end of the shift

Georgia

  • Employers must provide two hours for employees to vote
  • Time off is unpaid
  • Employers may specify when the time can be taken
  • Does not apply if employees have two or more hours to vote before or after their shift

Hawaii

  • Employees can take up to two hours, excluding lunch or break time, to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if employees have two hours vote outside work hours
  • State recommends voters retain their ballot stub as proof of voting
  • Employers found in violation of the law are subject to fines

Illinois

  • Employees must provide notice prior to Election Day
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if employee has two hours before or after shift to vote

Iowa

  • Employees must make written request before Election Day
  • Employees can take up to three hours to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Employer can designate when the time to vote is taken
  • Does not apply if employee has three hours before or after shift to vote

Kansas

  • Employees may take up to two hours to vote
  • Employers may designate time off to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if employee has two hours before or after shift to vote

Kentucky

  • Employees may take up to four hours to vote
  • Employees must request time off
  • Employers can specify when the employee can take time off to vote
  • Time off is unpaid

Maryland

  • Employees can take up to two hours to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Proof of voting may be required
  • Does not apply if employees have two hours to vote outside working hours

Massachusetts

Minnesota

  • Employees can take off the time needed to vote
  • State asks employees only take as much time as they need
  • Time off is paid
  • Employers found in violation can face a misdemeanor

Missouri

  • Employees must request time off prior to Election Day
  • Employees can take up to three hours off
  • Employers can determine when the employee can take time to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if workers have three hours off while the polls are open

Nebraska

  • Time off can be requested before or on Election Day
  • Employees can take up to two hours to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Employer can specify when the employee can vote
  • Does not apply if the employee has two hours off during non-work hours to vote

Nevada

  • Employees must provide workers time to vote if they can’t before or after work hours
  • Time to vote is based on distance from the workplace and the employee’s polling location (not more than three hours)
  • Time off is paid
  • Employees must give notice before Election Day
  • Employers can designate when the employee takes time off to vote
  • Employers found in violation of the law are subject to a misdemeanor

New Mexico

  • Employees can take up to two hours of leave to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if employees have two hours to vote before work or three hours to vote after work
  • Employers found in violation of the law are subject to fines and a misdemeanor

New York

  • Employees must give at least two days’ notice
  • Employers must provide notice of employee voting rights at least 10 days before the election
  • Employees can take up to two hours off to vote
  • Time is paid
  • Does not apply if the employee has four hours to vote before or after work
  • Employers may determine when the employee can take time off to vote

North Dakota

  • Employers encouraged but not required to give employees time to vote
  • Time off is unpaid

Ohio

  • Employees can take a “reasonable” time off to vote
  • Applies only to salaried employees
  • Time off is paid
  • Employers found in violation of the law are subject to fines

Oklahoma

  • Employees must give notice before Election Day
  • Employees can take up to two hours off to vote
  • More time can be taken if the polling location requires more time to reach
  • Employers can determine when employees can take time to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if an employee has at least three hours to vote before or after work
  • Employers found in violation of the law are subject to a misdemeanor or fines

South Dakota

  • Employees can take up to two hours off to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if employee has two hours to vote before or after work
  • Employers found in violation the law are guilty of a misdemeanor

Tennessee

  • Employees must give notice by noon the day before the election
  • Employees can take up to three hours to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Employers can specify when the time is taken
  • Does not apply if employees have three hours to vote before or after their shift

Texas

  • Employees can take time off to vote, though an exact amount isn’t specified
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if employees have two hours to vote before or after their shift
  • Employers found in violation the law are guilty of a misdemeanor

Utah

  • Utah is sending voters mail-in ballots this year
  • Employees must ask for leave before Election Day
  • Employees can take up to two hours of leave to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Employers can designate when the employee takes time to vote, but employees can request that it be the beginning or end of a shift
  • Does not apply if the employee has three hours to vote during non-working hours
  • There is pending legislation regarding the law

West Virginia

  • Employees must request time off to vote at least three days before the election
  • Employees can take up to three hours off to vote
  • Time off is paid
  • Does not apply if the employee has at least three hours to vote during non-working hours
  • Employers in certain industries — essential government, health, hospital, transportation and communication services and in production, manufacturing and processing works requiring continuity in operation — may designate when an employee can take time off to vote

Wisconsin

  • Employees must give notice before Election Day
  • Employees can take up to three hours off to vote
  • Time off is not paid
  • Employers can specify when the employee takes time off to vote
  • Employers can’t penalize an employee for taking time off to vote

Wyoming

  • Employees can take an hour off to vote (not a meal break)
  • Time off is paid (so long as the employee votes)
  • Does not apply if an employee has three hours to vote during non-working hours

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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