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ELECTION DAY 2012 VOTING REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS

October 8, 2012

With the 2012 Presidential elections approaching in early November, employers need to remember that most states have laws requiring employers to allow employees to take time off to vote, sometimes with pay, subject to the employee’s hours of work and the times when the voting polls are open. In a few states, employers are required to post notices in advance of an election, advising employees of their rights. The following is a listing of several state law requirements.

Alabama Employers are required to give employees time off to vote unless the employee’s work shift commences at least two hours after the polls open or ends at least one hour before the polls close. If an employee requires time off for voting, the employee must give the employer “reasonable notice.” The employer is not required to grant more than a one-hour absence, and the employer may designate the time when employees may leave work to vote. Time off for voting is not required to be paid time off. Alabama Code § 17-1-5.
Alaska Employers are required to give an employee as much time off “as will enable voting,” unless the polls are open for two nonworking hours before or after the employee’s work shift. Time off for voting must be paid. Alaska Stat. § 15.15.100.
California If an employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote, the employer must provide enough time off that, when added to time available outside of working hours, the employee will be able to vote. Unless otherwise agreed, the time off must be at the beginning or end of a shift, whichever allows the most free time to vote and the least time off from work. Employees who, three working days before the election, have reason to believe that time off will be necessary must give the employer two business days’ notice. Up to two hours off must be paid. Employers must post, in a conspicuous place, a notice setting forth these provisions no less than 10 days before the election. Cal. Elec. Code §§ 14000-14001.
Colorado Employers are required to give an employee two hours off to vote unless the employee has three consecutive nonworking hours available for voting at the polls. The employee is to be paid for working time he or she is required to miss in order to vote. The employee must apply for the leave before the day of the election and the employer may specify the hours that the employee may be absent, provided, however, that the hours shall be at the beginning or end of a shift if the employee so requests. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-7-102.
Georgia Employers must give an employee up to two hours of time off to vote, unless the polls are open for two consecutive hours before or after the employee’s work shift. The employer may specify the time when employees may be absent. Employers are not required to provide paid time off to vote. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-404.
Hawaii Employers are required to give an employee two consecutive hours off for voting unless the polls are open for two consecutive hours before or after the employee’s work shift. Time off for voting must be paid if the employee presents proof of having voted (with a voting receipt). Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-95.
Illinois Employers must give an employee up to two hours’ time off in order to vote unless the polls are open two hours before or after the employee’s shift. The employer may specify the hours when an employee may be absent. Time off for voting must be paid. 10 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/17-15.
Iowa Employers are required to allow an employee up to three hours of time off for voting unless the polls are open three hours before or after that employee’s shift. The total time off allowed is three hours, less the time the polls are open before or after the shift. Employees are required to apply for the time off in writing before Election Day and the employer may designate the period of time to be taken. Time off for voting must be paid. Iowa Code Ann. § 49.109.
Kansas Employers must give an employee up to two hours of time off from work to vote unless the polls are open for two hours before or after the employee’s work shift. The total time off allowed is two hours, less the time the polls are open before or after work. The employer can specify the particular time when the employee may be absent as long as that time is not during a regular lunch break. Time off for voting must be paid. Kan. Stat.
Ann. § 25-418.
Kentucky Employers are required to allow employees at least four hours of time off in order to vote or cast an absentee ballot, but employees must request leave before the day of the election. The employer may select the time during which employees may be absent from work. Employers are not required to grant paid time off. Ky. Const. § 148; Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 118.035.
Massachusetts Employers are required to grant an employee time off to vote during the first two hours after the polls open, if the employee requests time off during that period. Only those who are employed in a “manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment” are eligible for time off under this provision. Time off for voting need not be paid. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 178.
Minnesota Employers are required to give employees sufficient time off to vote during the morning of the election. Time off for voting must be paid. Minn. Stat. § 204C.04.
Missouri Employers are required to give an employee up to three hours off from work to vote unless the polls are open for three nonworking hours before or after the employee’s work shift. The employer may specify the three hours that the employee may take off for voting. An employee taking time off to vote must request such time off before Election Day. Time off for voting must be paid. Vernon’s Ann. Mo. Stat. § 115.639
Nebraska Employers are required to give time off to vote to employees who do not have two consecutive nonworking hours while the polls are open. This time shall be up to two hours but any nonworking time the employee has while the polls are open may be subtracted. If the employee applies for the absence before Election Day, the time off is to be paid. The employer may specify the time when the employee may be absent. Neb. Rev.
Stat. § 32-922.
Nevada Employers are required to give “sufficient time” for employees to vote if it is impracticable for them to vote during nonworking hours. An employee who works two miles or less from a polling place may take one hour; two to ten miles, two hours; more than ten miles, three hours. The employer may designate the hours an employee will take to vote. Time off is to be paid. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.463.
New Mexico Employers are required to give an employee two hours off to vote unless the employee’s work day begins two hours after the polls are open or ends three hours before the polls close. An employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent. Time off is to be paid. N. Mex. Stat. § 1-12-42.
New York Employers are required to give up to two hours paid leave to vote to employees who do not have four consecutive nonworking hours between the polls opening and closing, and who do not have “sufficient” nonworking time to vote. Employees must request the leave between two and ten days before Election Day. The employer may decide whether the leave is to be taken at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift. Employers must conspicuously post this rule in the workplace ten days prior to the election. Consol. Laws of N.Y. § 3-110.
Ohio Employers cannot fire or threaten to fire an employee for taking a reasonable amount of time to vote. Employers may not otherwise induce or compel an employee to vote or refrain from voting. Ohio Rev. Code §
3599.06.
Tennessee Employees who begin their workday less than three hours after polls open and finish less than three hours before polls close are entitled to up to three hours paid leave to vote. Employees must request leave by noon the day before the election. The employer can set the time for leave to vote. Tenn. Code § 2-1-106.
Texas Employers are required to allow an employee sufficient time to vote, unless the employee has two consecutive nonworking hours in which to vote. Time off is to be paid. State agencies must allow each agency employee sufficient time off to vote in any national, state or local election, without a deduction in salary or accrued leave. Tex. Elec. Code § 276.004; Tex. Gov. Code § 661.914.
Washington Employers are required to arrange their employees’ schedules on Election Day so as to allow each employee a reasonable time, up to two hours, in which to vote. If an employee does not have two free hours during the day, the employer shall permit that employee to take up to two paid hours to vote. However, these provisions do not apply if the employee had time to secure an absentee ballot. Wash. Rev. Code § 49.28.120.
Wisconsin Employees are entitled up to three hours’ leave to vote. Employees must request such leave before Election Day. Pay can be deducted for the time away from work. The employer may decide when the leave is taken.
Wis. Stat. § 6.76.