encourage votingHaving the privilege to vote was a big reason why I chose to become a US citizen. And since my naturalization in 2005, I have voted in every single election. Election day is a big deal for me. I always take my children to the polls so they acquire the “voting habit.”

With the presidential debates under way, employers are wondering about their obligation regarding time off for employees on Election Day.

There is no federal law mandating employers to provide time off for employees to cast their ballots.  Currently, 31 states have voter leave laws. Virginia is not one of them. Some of those states require employers to provide paid voting leave. 

In addition to voter leave laws, many states have provisions for employees serving as an election official or participating in political activity.

Regardless of your state voter leave law, it’s always a good idea to allow employees to take time off to fulfill their civic obligations. Attorneys recommend up to two hours of paid time off if employees don’t have time to vote before or after work. Two to three non-working hours between the opening and closing of the polls is deemed sufficient time to vote.

Note that in states with voter leave laws on the books, employers might be required to inform employees of their rights through posting in the workplace before Election Day.

Now is the time to plan for a smooth work day on November 8. Decision Day 2016 is only a few weeks  away!