Can Your Employer Refuse to Give You Time Off to Vote?
Good morning, sunshine, and happy Election Day!
Yes, today is the day we celebrate democracy and the right to exercise our civic duty. But if you're anything like me, this day also has you STRESSED TF OUT. There's so much to do and so little time before the polls close! What about traffic?! What about long lines?! What if it takes you longer than you expected and you're late to work and then everything is terrible?!
If your personal anxiety spiral is anything like mine, then there's good news: In most states, your employer is legally required to give you time to vote. But that said, there's no federal law protecting your job.
According to The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), “Though many states allow employees to have up to three hours off during the time the polls are open (the number of hours varies by state), nearly all of the states allow employers to refuse time off to vote.” Ugh.
For example, in Minnessota, "Time off is required, but no specific limit is listed as long as the time available is 'sufficient' time to vote." In Kentucky, workers are granted 4 hours, "however, the employer may specify the times between which the employee may leave work to vote. The employer cannot penalize the employee for taking time to vote, unless the person does not actually vote and does not have a valid reason for not voting."
To find out the specifics of the law in your state, including how they affect hourly workers, click here.
Given the high stakes of this election — which is one of the most expensive and most diverse in history — we have a feeling your boss will be feeling extra lenient. Remember how the 2016 election was decided by less than 100,000 votes? Mhmm, that means that every vote counts. Your vote counts — a helpful talking point.
However, if for some reason your boss does put a fight, quadruple check to see if the law is on your side. And make sure you get to your polling place (which you can look up here) before it closes (find that information here). We can’t guarantee that your candidate will win, but we can guarantee that your voting sticker selfie will get you a substantial amount of likes.
So get out there, get in line and change your iPhone work email signature to "Sent from My Polling Place." And maybe look into early voting next year? Just a thought.