With the election taking place, you may be wondering what legal rights your employees have when it comes to voting. States have taken a wide variety of approaches to handling the election. In some states, the law dictates a specific amount of time that employers must give workers off to vote. This time off could be paid or unpaid and one to three hours long, depending on the specifics of the law. Some states will require an employer to give an employee time off only if he or she does not have enough time to vote before or after work during the hours when the polls are open.
Make Time To Vote
Most states prevent an employer from firing or disciplining an employee because he or she takes time off to vote. In some states, if an employee does not actually vote even though he or she took off time for that designated purpose, the employer has a right to dock the employee’s pay for the hours taken off. If this is the rule in your state, encourage your employees to save their receipt or other proof of voting.
Many of the states with laws that protect time off for voting also impose penalties if an employer keeps workers from exercising their right to vote. In some states, the penalties for an employer who refuses to allow his or her employees to vote when it is their legal right can be quite severe.
What Your Team Should Know
Many states also require that an employee gives his or her employer advance notice of their intention to vote. If an employee fails to follow this rule, he or she cannot rely on the state law’s protections. Encourage your employees to let you know ahead of time when they want to vote so you can make arrangements for coverage while they are away. Even if your state does not have a law that requires you to allow your employees time off to vote, you should still support their efforts to vote. Most employers want to promote civic involvement while also maintaining employee morale by allowing their workers to vote. You may find that if you attempt to block employees from voting, you could face a potential public relations issue, which could be worse for your business than any fine the state government might impose.
Need Further Information?
The team at Optimum Employer Solutions, a trusted Professional Employment Organization (PEO), can help you better understand the voting laws in your state. If you have questions about how voting or discussing politics in the workplace could affect your business, let our experts help.
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