By Chris Hadden, CPP
Greenshades Technical Manager
So, who’s ready to vote?
I love election years! No, I’m not a fan of the negative ads, but I love all of the buildup. I love the debates and the interviews. Instead of spending my Sunday mornings watching Formula 1, I get to share my time with all of the Sunday morning political shows, like one of my favorites: NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
So, why should you care about this? Well, quite frankly, my views on politics likely mean nothing to you, and that is not what I’m here for. The thing that should matter to all of us, however, is Election Day.
In preparation for Election Day, you may be reviewing the candidates and planning your voting strategy. However, don’t forget about one other group of people: your employees.
Based on your state laws, you may be required to offer your employees time off on Election Day. You may even be required to pay them for this time.
According to the American Payroll Association, all but 19 states have requirements in place regarding mandatory time-off compliance for an Election Day. The 19 states without any Election Day time-off laws are Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.
So, do you have employees in a state not listed? Well, you better begin preparing now!
Some states require Paid Leave on Election Day, while others just require employers to allow for leave time on Election Day.
The following states do not permit employers to make a deduction from an employee’s wages for time spent voting: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Some of these states have substantial penalties in place for non-compliance.
Exceptions to this rule:
- Typically a cap on the number of hours an employer must offer off. For example, many states allow employee’s wages to be deducted if they miss more than 2 hours of work due to voting.
- Proof of voting may be required. Some states, such as Oklahoma, only enforce employers to abide by these rules when the employee can show proof that voting has been completed.
- Advance notice required in some states. The exact advance notice varies by states, however, 19 different states do have stipulations. Some states, however, are more specific than others. For example, California requires two working days’ notice before the election. Meanwhile, Alabama doesn’t specify the length of time, saying only that “reasonable notice” is required.
- Shift duration. Some states, such as Colorado, do not require employers follow these mandates if the employee has three non-work hours available while polls are open.
Even if your state doesn’t require on Election Day, it’s likely in the best interest of the employee’s satisfaction and morale to be as flexible as possible on Election Day.
What are some ways to prepare?
- Encourage early voting. I always do either early voting, or mail in voting, because I’d prefer to avoid the Election Day rush. Since I have always had such positive experience with it, I often encourage others to do the same. While you certainly cannot force your employees to early vote, there’s nothing wrong with sharing the great benefits of voting early.
- Schedule shorter shifts. Consider scheduling shorter shifts on Election Day, ensuring that your employees have some time before or after their shift to vote while the polls are open.
- Educate supervisors. Since supervisors are generally the ones approving or denying an employee’s ability to leave work, be sure to provide proper education to your supervisors regarding your state laws on Election Day. Need some incentive? Some states have fines issued directly to the supervisor, in addition to the fines issued to the company for non-compliance.
- Get feedback early. While some states allow employees to submit leave time requests up to one day before Election Day, consider being proactive in asking your employees about upcoming time off needs for Election Day.
Here’s to another great election year!
Now, time for me to get back to binge watching the election coverage!