With the upcoming Presidential Election looming, some people may still be determining which candidate will get their vote, but others are more concerned with finding the time to actually get to the polls. Did you know that there are state laws that require employers to give time off, under certain circumstances, to allow employees to vote on Election Day? It is important for employers to ensure that they are not infringing upon their employees’ right to vote.
In Missouri, the 2016 polling hours are 6 am to 7 pm. Under Missouri law, an employer is not required to give time off for voting to an employee unless there are not three consecutive hours during which the polls are open and the employee is not in the service of the employer. For example, an employee whose workday starts at 9 am would have three consecutive hours during which the polls are open to vote, 6 am to 9 am, thus his employer is not required to give time off.
However, let’s look at a different hypothetical: an employee works a twelve-hour shift from 8 am to 8 pm. In these circumstances, a Missouri employer would be required to give its employee three hours of time off to vote because there are not three consecutive hours during which the polls are open and the employee is not in the service of the employer. Also, employers may not deduct from an employee’s salary or wages for this time-off, nor discipline his employees in any way for taking time off to vote. However, employers may specify the three hours in which its employee must vote. Thus, an employer could require this employee to vote between 6 am and 9 am and would only have to compensate for the 8 am to 9 am hour that is part of the employee’s usual shift.
It is important to note that employees must give advanced notice of their absence prior to Election Day. If an employee approaches his employer on Election Day asking for time off to vote, the employer may legally deny the request. Also, employers may lawfully require that an employee provide proof of voting eligibility and proof of voting, because, in order to be protected by this law, an employee must be eligible to vote and actually vote.