Topic of the Week Time Off Work to Vote: What Does the Law Allow
Many, but not all, state laws require that employers permit employees to take time off work to vote on election day. Each state differs in whether you need to give notice of your intent to take time off, when you are allowed time off, whether the time is paid, and whether you must provide proof that you voted.
Do you have a right to take time off work to vote?
Yes, in some states, but not all. Depending on where you live, the answer may be "yes, definitely," "no, not really," or "it depends." This is an area of the law dealt with on a state-by-state basis, even during the national presidential elections held every four years. So your right to vote during work time depends on what your state law says. See workplacefairness.org/voting-rights-time-off-work for information about your state.
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. Some states require your employer to give you time off only if you will not have enough time to vote before or after work, while the polls are open. Most but not all states prevent your employer from firing or disciplining you because you take time off to vote. In some states, if you do not actually vote even though you took time off for that purpose, your employer can dock your pay for the hours off, so save your receipt or other proof of voting in case you're later questioned.
How do you exercise your right to take time off to vote?
While the procedures vary from state to state, many states require that you give your employer advance notice of your intention to vote, or you cannot rely on the law's protections. It's a good idea anyway, so that you and your employer can make arrangements for coverage while you're away from work. Even if your state does not have a law, you may find your employer will support your efforts to vote. If there are no protections in your state, and your employer will not accommodate your need to vote, 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.