You´re a civic-minded small-business owner. You want your employees to participate in the political process. When they ask for time off work to go to the polls, what do you do?
When it comes to giving time off to vote, there are no federal laws that require you to do so. However, a majority of the states have laws requiring employers give employees time off to vote, particularly in situations where an employee’s work hours don´t allow sufficient time to vote during poll hours.
Flexibility is the key when it comes to encouraging employees to vote. While your state´s laws may not mandate paid time off, there’s nothing that prohibits you from implementing a voting policy that offers your employees greater flexibility or privileges than what the law requires.
What do most state voting laws require? In many states, the following rules generally apply:
- If polls are open two or three hours before or after employees’ normal tour of duty, the employer is not obligated to provide time off to vote.
- Employers may require that employees provide written requests for time off to vote.
- Employers may designate when time off will be permitted for employees to vote.
- Employers may not include lunch periods as part of the voting time off permitted.
- Employees may not be disciplined or retaliated against for taking time off to vote.
To learn more about state voting law requirements, go to http://www.nfib.com/object/IO_31227.html. You may also want to check out the NFIB Legal Foundation´s Model Employee Handbook for Small Business while you are there. It includes a model voting time off policy (free to NFIB members, $40 for non-members).