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Do Employees Get Time Off to Vote?

Written by: Don Benson, Esq.

With every election, employers need to revisit their rules on letting employees off to vote, and whether such leave needs to be paid leave. For the most part, this will be governed by the state law of where the employee votes.  State laws differ significantly and change frequently. In the Southeast, many state laws require unpaid time off that will not be counted against the employee under the company’s attendance policy.

Alabama:

Each employee in the state shall, upon reasonable notice to his or her employer, be permitted by his or her employer to take necessary time off from his or her employment to vote in any municipal, county, state, or federal political party primary or election for which the employee is qualified and registered to vote on the day on which the primary or election is held. The necessary time off shall not exceed one hour and if the hours of work of the employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least one hour prior to the closing of the polls, then the time off for voting as provided in this section shall not be available. The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may absent himself or herself as provided in this section. Alabama Code § 17-1-5.

Florida:

Florida has no specific statute requiring time off to vote.

Georgia:

Each employee in this state shall, upon reasonable notice to his or her employer, be permitted by his or her employer to take any necessary time off from his or her employment to vote in any municipal, county, state, or federal political party primary or election for which such employee is qualified and registered to vote on the day on which such primary or election is held; provided, however, that such necessary time off shall not exceed two hours; and provided, further, that, if the hours of work of such employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least two hours prior to the closing of the polls, then the time off for voting as provided for in this Code section shall not be available. The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may absent himself or herself as provided in this Code section. Georgia Code § 21-2-404.

North Carolina:

North Carolina has no specific statute requiring time off to vote.

South Carolina:

South Carolina has no specific statute requiring time off to vote.

Tennessee:

Employees who begin their work day less than 3 hours after polls open and finish less than 3 hours before polls close are entitled to up to 3 hours paid leave to vote. The employee must request leave by noon the day before Election Day. The employer can set the time for leave to vote:

(a)  Any person entitled to vote in an election held in this state may be absent from any service or employment on the day of the election for a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.

(b)  A voter who is absent from work to vote in compliance with this section may not be subjected to any penalty or reduction in pay for such absence.

(c)  If the tour of duty of an employee begins three (3) or more hours after the opening of the polls or ends three (3) or more hours before the closing of the polls of the county where the employee is a resident, the employee may not take time off under this section.

(d)  The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent. Application for such absence shall be made to the employer before twelve o’clock (12:00) noon of the day before the election. Tenn. Code § 2-1-106.

A UNIFORM COMPANY POLICY OF STATE BY STATE?

If an employer has a facility where employees commute from multiple states, most employers adopt a policy that complies with the most employee-generous statute of the surrounding states for ease of application and uniformity of treatment of employees.

Employers with employees in states nationwide need to check each state in crafting their policy and decision as to whether to have one policy or many. State laws differ and some states even required paid time off to vote.