With Election Day around the corner, it is important for employers to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding employees taking time off to vote. Voting leave laws vary significantly state to state and is important for employers to understand the differences. Below are some of the questions we are most frequently asked, and Ohio specific answers.
What are my obligations as an employer?
State law governs employer obligation when it comes to employee voting entitlements. Employers must become familiar with state law for the state in which it has employees. In Ohio employers cannot:
discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for taking a reasonable amount of time to vote on election day;
require or order an employee to accompany him to a voting place upon such day;
refuse to permit such elector to serve as an election official on any registration or election day;
indirectly use any force or restraint or threaten to inflict any injury, harm, or loss;
in any other manner practice intimidation in order to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting for or against any person or question or issue submitted to the voters.
How much time is required to be given?
Some states are very prescriptive, requiring 2-3 hours away from work to vote, while others, like Ohio, have a broad ‘reasonable amount of time’ standard. Additionally, some states do not require an employer to provide time off from work if an employee has sufficient time to vote before or after their work hours, while other states require time off to be provided regardless of employee’s ability to vote outside of their work hours. Ohio is silent on this topic. As a general guideline, if an employee has at least 3 hours to vote outside of their work hours, it could be reasonable to ask them to vote outside of work, especially if a request for time off has not been provided in advance.
Does an employer have to pay for time spent voting?
This too is state specific. Some states require the employee to be paid, while others do not. In Ohio the law does not specify whether an employer has to pay the employee for time off to vote. However, Ohio Attorney General has provided guidance that states that hourly employees do not need to be compensated for time off to vote, but deductions cannot be made to salaried employees’ pay as a result of taking time off to vote.
Are there posting requirements?
This too varies by state. While Ohio, as well as many other states do not have posting requirements, New York and California, require employers to conspicuously post a notice of employees' rights to take time off to vote at least ten days before the election.
If you have any questions, or would like additional information on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us!