Election 2016

What Employees Should Know About Election Day

By Jay Starkman | October 11, 2016 | SOURCE: MSPBJ | PHOTO: Catherine Lane

Heavy voter turnout is expected this election day, so businesses should plan ahead.

More than half of all states require companies to provide time off for voting to employees who request it. Some states require that this time off be paid, while other states have no specific time-off-to-vote laws on the books.

Although the majority of workers should be able to vote before or after their normal work hours, some companies need to prepare for employees who will need to take time off to get to the polls.

Voting leave policy guidance

  • Employers should make sure that they comply with applicable voter leave laws in the state(s) where they have employees, noting that rules vary. Progressive companies with the highest employee morale tend to go beyond what is legally required when it comes to policies such as voting leave.
  • As a best practice, employers operating in states with no specific voter leave rules should generally allow up to two hours of paid time to vote for employees with insufficient time to do so during their regular workday.
  • Multi-state employers can implement a general voting policy for all employees that complies with the laws in every state where the company operates or establish specific time-off-to-vote policies for each state.
  • Employers should determine ahead of time whether or not they need to stagger shifts or account for individuals using their voting leave so that appropriate staffing levels are maintained while still adhering to state laws. In most states, employers can designate the time of day when employees can be absent to vote during the workday. The employee is generally required to give advance notice of the need for leave, and employers can generally require proof of voting.
  • All employers must be mindful to be neutral and consistent when granting time off to vote to avoid claims of discrimination or voter disenfranchisement.
  • Some states require businesses to post a notice of employee voting rights before every election. For example, New York requires employers to post state rules conspicuously at least 10 working days prior to an election and keep the posting in place until the polls close on election day. California has a similar provision. Even if not required, it is a good idea to communicate state and company voting policies to all employees prior to election day.

For help with state compliance issues or assistance with drafting voter leave policies for employee handbooks, companies should consult with a human resources professional, preferably an employment lawyer. 

See original article here.