States Have Time Off to Vote Requirements
As Election Day approaches, employers should ensure compliance with state time off to vote laws in all states in which employees work. Generally, these laws apply when an employee would not otherwise have enough time to vote during non-working hours. Some states impose costly penalties or even prison time for noncompliance. Note that no federal law requires employers to grant employees time off to vote, and employers can always be more generous than a state requires.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of states are allowing or requiring mail-in voting because of public health concerns. Even if many employees choose to vote by mail, remember to provide time off for voting when applicable. Check with the state agency – generally the Secretary of State’s office – to determine whether time spent depositing mail-in ballots at official drop boxes or post offices on Election Day qualifies as time off to vote in that jurisdiction.
State requirements vary considerably. Know whether and how much paid or unpaid leave – or both – must be granted, whether leave must be requested in advance, when employers can specify the hours when time can be taken (e.g., beginning or end of a shift), what penalties can be imposed for failure to comply, and recent updates in several states.
APA’s Guide to State Payroll Laws, §1.8 – Time Off to Vote Laws provides detailed information on state requirements in an easy-to-read chart. The book is available online or in print. The online version is updated throughout the year as changes occur, and advanced search features enable readers to find critical information quickly.
Interested in more state and local payroll coverage? APA’s PayState Update eNewsletter is perfect for you.
Mavanee Anderson, Esq., is an Editor of PayState Update and Payroll Information Resources for the APA.