Workplace Fairness, one of the nation’s leading organizations advocating for worker’s rights, has put online a guide listing information about state laws relating to the right of workers to take time off for voting.
The laws vary widely from state to state, even for presidential elections.
The guide explains that “In some states, the law designates a specific amount of time that workers must be allowed off to vote. This time off may be paid or unpaid. On the other hand, some states require employers to give employees time off only if they will not have enough time to vote before or after work, while the polls are open.”
Furthermore, most, but not all, states prevent employers from firing or disciplining workers because they take time off to vote. However, in some states, if they do not actually vote even though they took time off for that purpose, employers can dock pay from their employees’ paychecks for the hours not worked. (In such states, it’s important that employees save a receipt or other proof of voting in case they are questioned later.)
Procedures differ from state to state even when the law requires time off for voting.
For example, many states require employees to give their employers advance notice of their intention to vote so that managements can make arrangements for job coverage.
And there are some states that do not require employers to give any time off at all.
Furthermore, most states do not require an employer to give their employees time off for the purpose of volunteering to be either a poll watcher or to work the polls for a candidate. However, at their own discretion, many employers allow employees to use vacation time or sick leave for that purpose. But employees generally do not have a legal right to take leave whenever they want to without advance notice or permission, even if leave has been accrued.
Finally, Workplace Fairness has this advice for workers living in states that have no time-off-for-voting laws: “Before giving up and not voting, be sure to find out your state’s laws on absentee or early voting. That may be an option if there is absolutely no way you can be away from work and still vote.”
Check out your state’s law here.