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Compliance With Paid Time Off to Vote Laws Is Critical on Election Day

As Election Day, November 3, approaches, employers should ensure compliance with Time Off to Vote laws in all states in which employees work.

Generally, these laws apply when an employee would not otherwise have enough time to vote during non-working hours. Some state laws contain costly penalty provisions for noncompliance. Note that no federal law requires employers to grant employees time off to vote, and employers may always be more generous.

Paid time off for voting

Employers are not permitted to make deductions from an employee’s wages for time spent voting in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the following 21 states: Alaska, Arizona, California (permitted after two hours), Colorado (permitted after two hours), Illinois, Iowa (permitted after two hours), Kansas, Maryland (permitted after two hours; proof of voting required), Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York (permitted after two hours), Ohio (unless employee is paid on a piecework, commission, or hourly basis), Oklahoma (proof of voting required), South Dakota, Tennessee (time must be used to vote), Texas, Utah, West Virginia (unless employee fails to vote), and Wyoming (provided legal vote is actually cast).

Employee notice

Employees must provide some form of notice, including advance requests for time off, to employers for time off to vote in the District of Columbia and the following 18 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts (for certain industries), Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Recent changes

The District of Columbia requires employers to provide up to two hours of paid time off to vote for employees who are registered voters as of June 24. New York reverted back to its prior requirement of two hours of paid time off to vote (from three hours of paid time off). Beginning with this year’s primary elections, all statewide elections in Hawaii are conducted by mail, and employers are no longer required to provide employees with time off to vote [Hawaii Office of Elections, Hawaii Votes By Mail webpage].

Voting by mail

This year, many employees may choose to vote by mail. State time off to vote requirements are still in force and must be followed when applicable. Additionally, check with the appropriate state agency, generally the Secretary of State to determine whether depositing mail-in ballots at official drop boxes or post offices on Election Day would be considered time off to vote in that jurisdiction.

States with no requirements

Employers are not required to provide employees with time off to vote in the following 20 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Even in states that do not require time off to vote, however, many employers are choosing to promote the fulfillment of civic duties by providing paid or unpaid leave so employees can vote or deposit mail-in ballots.

Additional resources

For more detailed information on when time off to vote must be provided, the number of hours that must be allowed (both paid and unpaid), when employers can specify the hours when time off can be taken, detailed penalty provisions, and polling times, see Many States Require Employers to Provide Time Off to Vote.

Namely does not provide legal, accounting, or tax advice. Please consult with professional counsel for any tax, accounting or legal questions.

There are so many different standards and regulations when working for a company that has employees in more than one state. The burden is on HR to ensure they are keeping up with the diverse requirements and continuous changes to avoid costly fines and litigation. Namely's Comply Advice & Action can help. Click here to learn more about how your team can stay current and informed of breaking compliance news, legislative updates, and best practices surrounding complexities of multi-state operations.

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