Voting and Employee Time Off
Early voting is underway with many states seeing unprecedented voter turnout. Because it may take longer for employees to vote in person than in years past, all managers should be aware of the employer’s policy and the state laws related to employee time off for voting.
State laws generally require employers not to penalize employees who take time off to vote. In Georgia, all employees who are eligible voters are allowed to take time off to vote on election day – no matter how large or small the business. While the consequences for non-compliance with voter laws vary from state to state, in Georgia it is a misdemeanor for each confirmed violation.
In order to strike a balance, Georgia employers can implement policies that generally require employees to vote before or after their scheduled hours of work if possible. It is acceptable to limit the amount of time that can be taken off during scheduled work hours to vote to two hours. If the employee’s shift starts at least two hours after the polls open or ends at least two hours before the polls close, then the employer is not required to give any additional time off to vote. The employee must also provide the employer with reasonable notice.
Because state laws vary, it is advisable to ensure that any policy that you implement complies with the law of state in which the employee works and that the policy is applied consistently to all employees. Employers should check their handbooks and possibly consult with employment counsel to ensure that their existing policy is legally compliant for the states in which they operate.