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Do I Have To Give My Employees Time Off From Work To Vote?

Tuesday, November 8, is Election Day, and many employers wonder if they need to give their employees time off.

Employers are not required by federal law to provide employees with any time off to vote, let alone paid time off. However, laws vary from state to state. Several states and specific local ordinances do mandate paid leave, specifically when an employee's work hours do not provide adequate time to vote during poll hours.

State voting-leave regulations differ regarding whether time off must be compensated must compensate such time off or unpaid for nonexempt employees. However, exempt employees who vote during regular working hours should not have their pay lowered since doing so would risk their exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

State laws also differ regarding how much time must be offered and whether an employer can determine which hours are taken off, such as at the beginning or close of the employee's workday. Some jurisdictions require employees to be informed of their voting-leave rights through posters. Furthermore, several jurisdictions require companies to give time off to employees who serve as election officials or in elected positions.

Even if your state does not mandate leave, it is good practice, and I recommend allowing employees to take paid time off to vote if there isn't enough time for them to vote outside of working hours or if it just works better for their schedule. Doing this promotes staff morale at a low cost to the business!

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