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Do You Have to Allow Your Employees Time off to Vote?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 02, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If your employees haven't voted by mail, they'll likely need to hit the polls on Tuesday. That can put an awful strain on your small business, so are you required to give staff time out of the office to go and vote?

Here's a look.

Paid Time Off

Statutes that govern time off to vote vary from state to state, and 24 states require employers to give employees paid time off to vote: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The requirements for notice and shift availability can also differ, depending on where your small business is located. In California, the time off must be at the beginning or end of a shift, and the paid time is limited to two hours. Iowa requires employees without three consecutive hours to vote while the polls are open to submit a request for paid time off.

Unpaid Time Off

Eight states guarantee employees time off to vote, even though it may be unpaid. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin require employers to give employees a certain amount of time off, but the amount of time may vary.

Wisconsin gives employees three hours to vote, so long as he or she requests the time before Election Day, while Kentucky give employees four hours. Alabama and Arkansas have more vague statutes, with employers asked to create schedules that give employees the opportunity to vote.

No Specific Statute

The remaining 19 states -- Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia -- don't have a specific law requiring time off to vote. But if you're a good boss, it might be nice to offer your employees the opportunity to do their civic duty and hit the polls.

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