Voting is important to our democracy. News coverage for the 2020 presidential election is already nonstop – while Virginia’s local and state elections are around the corner (November 5). However, do employers need to allow employees time off to go vote?
Unlike several other countries, the United States does not have a federal law providing a national holiday or mandating time off for voting. Instead, there are certain state-specific requirements. Check out my review below of the DC-metro region’s approach to voter leave:
- Maryland: Maryland requires that employers allow employees two (2) hours to vote – only if they do not have two (2) hours of continuous-time off-duty to vote. Maryland law provides that employers may request proof of voting. Employees requesting time off to vote should do so with reasonable notice.
- Virginia: Virginia does not require time off for voting itself – however does mandate that employers grant requests for election officer leave (although the leave does not need to be paid). Requests for election officer leave must be made reasonably in advance of election day. Employees that serve four (4) or more hours (including travel time) on election day cannot be required to start a shift that begins at 5 pm or later on that day.
- District of Columbia: The District of Columbia does not require that employers provide employees with time off for voting.
Employers with employees working in states outside of the DC-Metro area should check the state law where the employee works (even if it is telework) to determine whether they need to provide time off to vote. In addition, employers in all jurisdictions should review all requests for leave consistent with an established leave policy. Deviating from a policy on election day (or any employee request) opens up liability for claims of discrimination and other potential causes of action. Feel free to reach out to me to discuss your leave policy – and for those residing in Virginia, be sure to vote on November 5.
If you have any questions about this or any other Labor and Employment topics, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-745-1849
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Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.
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