Election Day: Having time off to vote
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Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a human-resources expert, is tackling your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society.
Should employers offer paid time off to vote?
With the midterm elections approaching, you might have a question about your ability to take time off from work to go to the polls.
The promising news is that 44 percent of employers offer their workers paid time off to vote. This is a slight increase over last year and a reflection that more employers are proactively encouraging their employees to vote. In addition, 29 percent offer unpaid time off beyond what is required by state law.
The answer also might depend on what state you live in. Time off to vote is not mandated by federal law, but most states have voter-leave laws, although they vary widely. Some prevent employers from discouraging employees to take time off to vote, while others require employers to provide paid time off.
In some states, the law outlines whether employers can designate the hours to be taken off to vote. In other places, it defines how much notice employees must provide to their employer about their intention to take voting time off.
Illinois law allows every employee who is entitled, after giving notice, to two hours off work, provided that the employee’s working hours begin less than two hours after the opening of the polls and end less than two hours before the closing of the polls.
In California and New York, for example, employers are required to post employee voting rights in the workplace in advance of Election Day.
No matter where you live, I encourage you to check your company policy or state law and talk with your supervisor in advance if you need time away from work to cast your ballot.
The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.
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