The BIG 2016 Presidential Election is only a few weeks away. How will you handle employees who wish to vote on election day? Voting laws vary from state to state. Does your company have a written policy and procedure that accurately reflects the voting laws in your state?
Many states require employers provide a set number of hours be made available for qualified voters. Up to four hours off may be required if the polls are not open outside of work time. Some employers are even required to pay employees if voting must take place during work hours. In states where voting time does not require payment, retaliation on an employee exercising this constitutional right is always illegal.
I trained payroll and HR professionals in Tennessee and Kentucky this past month. The voting conversation was interesting.
- A majority of employers had no written policy at all.
- Most in Tennessee didn’t realize voting time had to be paid.
- Virtually no one knew the correct number of hours employees must be allowed off when voting and
- Only two or three out of almost 300 employers knew the employees are required to notify an employer of their intent to vote by noon the day before the election.
Maybe even a bit more surprising was the overall consensus that this time off would be abused by workers and the attitude of many in class was “Do we have to tell them about this time off to vote or is it just their responsibility to know the law and come to us?” That one sort of threw me.
- We do need to have a written policy and procedure.
- Our employees must be provided ample notice of exactly how voting time works and what is expected of them.
- We are allowed to determine the time our worker votes if we are making an accommodation.
- We must know when the polls open and close in order to plan if and when we should release a worker to vote.
- We can require proof of voting when we are making an accommodation.
- The employee does not control the process, but we must be fair and refrain from exhibiting a “put-off” attitude or risk a retaliation complaint.
Do you know the laws in your state? If not, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a pdf with laws for all states.
Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!