November 6 is election day and many of your employees will want to vote. You should know that some states have enacted laws requiring employers to allow employees time off to vote, sometimes with pay, subject to the individual’s hours of work and the times when the polls are open. In some states, employers are required to post notices in advance of an election, advising employees of their rights. Violation of many of these statutes is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.
Different states have different requirements. Here the requirements in the seven states in the Northeast:
Connecticut: No specific laws requiring time off.
Maine: No specific laws requiring time off.
Massachusetts: Employers are required to grant an employee time off to vote during the first two hours after the polls open, if the employee requests time off during that period. Only those who are employed in a “manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment” are eligible for time off under this provision. Time off for voting need not be paid.
New Hampshire: None, but if a person must be physically present at work or in transit to and from work from beginning to end of polling hours, she may apply to vote by absentee ballot.
New York: Employees who do not have 4 consecutive non-working hours between polls opening and closing, and who do not have “sufficient” non-working time to vote, are entitled to up to 2 hours paid leave to vote. Employees must request the leave between 2 and 10 days before Election Day. The employer can specify whether it be taken at beginning or end of shift. Employers must post this rule conspicuously 10 days prior to election.
Rhode Island: No specific laws requiring time off.
Vermont: No specific laws requiring time off.
Employers may want to post voting times for employees and state laws for covering absentee ballots.