With Voting Less Than 15 Days Away, Voting Leave Compliance Is Important
As we are just about two weeks away from election day on November 3, 2020, employers should be mindful that many states require employers to provide leave for employees to vote. The range of allowable hours to be absent from work vary between one and four hours for some states. Others provide authority for employees to be absent from work a sufficient amount of time agreed upon between the employer and the employee. Most states permit an employer to decide if the employees should take leave at the beginning or end of their shifts.
There are only approximately 14 states that do not have voting leave requirements. But even in these states, employers may want to remain flexible with their leave policies as voting lines are expected to be exceptionally long on election day as states grapple with maintaining social distancing and high voter turnout.
Notice and Posting Requirements
Most states that require employers to provide voting leave to its employees only require that employees provide reasonable notice of the need to take leave. A few states, such as New York and California, also have posting requirements.
New York requires that employers post a specific Notice at least ten working days before the election. Although the statute does not define working days, it is presumed that the phrase refers to business days. Thus, employers should post such notice no later than October 20, 2020.
Likewise, California requires that employers post a Notice at least ten days before the election. In this case, no later than October 24, 2020.
Given that many employees are working remotely or operating on a rotational schedule due to the pandemic, it is advisable to provide required notices electronically.
Penalties for Violations
At least twenty-three states have penalties for those employers who violate leave requirements. These penalties range anywhere from fines to a misdemeanor conviction. Employers should be aware that even though many states permit early voting or absentee voting, employers are not relieved from their obligation to provide voting leave to an employee who is requesting leave to vote.
Feel free to reach out to Bertram LLP for questions about voting leave requirements.