Get up to speed now on what employers need to do to ensure employee voting rights
Although some employees may choose to vote by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic, others will want to cast their ballots in person. They may have the right to take time off from work to do so depending on state law.
New Jersey does not have a law that provides time off from work to vote, but it is unlawful for employers to interfere with an employee’s right to vote.
Employers in New York are required to provide up to two hours of paid time off if a registered voter does not have four consecutive non-working hours to vote while the polls are open. Workers must notify their employer at least two working days prior to the election if they require time off to vote. Employees cannot be required to utilize PTO, vacation, or any other form of earned leave to vote. Conspicuous notice of voting rights must be posted at least ten working days before every election.
Several states, including New Jersey and New York, have laws against employer influence or intimidation on employees regarding whether to vote for or against a particular candidate or cause.
Best practices for employee voting
It is best practice to ensure workers have enough time off to vote, even in states where there is no voting leave law. Be sure to review voting leave obligations in every state where your employees work, including home locations of teleworkers, and communicate your policy in your handbook. Keep in mind that voting leave laws are not limited to national presidential elections, but apply during local elections as well.
While polling places are likely instating social distancing measures, it may be a good idea for employers to remind employees about the company’s COVID-19 policies, procedures, and expectations, so that employees are mindful when returning to work. However, employers should not attempt to influence how employees vote. Employees who choose to vote in person will undoubtedly need a bit more flexibility. Employers should consider providing it, even where it’s not required.
Please contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or need advisement during this unprecedented time.