Election Day Is Around the Corner: Are You Required to Give Your Employees Time Off to Vote?

With Election Day just around the corner, employers need to get informed – but not just on the hot-button issues. Employers should take some time to review the laws in their state regarding whether or not they must give their employees time off to vote. Laws regarding whether an employee has the right to take time off from work to vote, how much time is permissible, and whether that time is paid or unpaid, vary from state to state.

Pennsylvania does not have a law mandating that employers allow employees to take time off during the workday in order to vote. Pennsylvania law, however, does prohibit any person or corporation from directly or indirectly inflicting or threatening to inflict any “injury, damage, harm or loss, or in any other manner practices intimidation or coercion upon or against any person, in order to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting at any election.” Additionally, the law specifically prohibits employers from making any threats “express or implied, intended or calculated to influence the political opinions or actions” of employees. 25 P.S. § 3547.

For our clients located in Illinois, you should be aware that employers are required to provide their employees with time off to vote. In Illinois, employees are entitled to two hours of paid time off between the time of opening and closing of the polls provided they request time off no later than the day before Election Day. Employers are permitted to specify the hours during which the employee may leave, with the exception that “the employer must permit a two-hour absence during working hours if the employee’s working hours begin less than two hours after the opening of the polls and end less than two hours before the closing of the polls.” 10 ILCS 5/17-15.

It is important to remember that, as with many laws governing the employment relationship, voting leave laws vary by state and employers need to ensure they have the necessary information to protect themselves and the rights of their employees. To help avoid liability, employers must have proper policies and procedures in place to implement these laws, and ensure their managers and supervisors are informed of the employer’s policies. Leech Tishman’s Employment Practice Group can assist you in preparing for Election Day and ensure that you have the proper policies and procedures in place to help avoid potential liability.

Leech Tishman is a firm dedicated to providing full-service commercial legal services to individuals, businesses, and institutions.  We combine a deep understanding of our clients and their businesses with skilled legal counsel to find solutions.  We offer legal services in alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employment, energy, environmental, safety & toxic torts, estates & trusts, government relations, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, litigation, real estate, and taxation. For more information call 412.261.1600 or visit www.leechtishman.com.