click image for sourceWe are deep into election season, with under a week to go until the big day.  With that in mind, it is not too late to review some policies and practices that are rarely discussed by employers: Voting Leave, Election Leave, and Restrictions on Political Messages.

Voting Leave:
Many states around the country require employers to provide time off to employees to vote in an election.  For example, Illinois requires that employees be provided up to two hours of paid leave to participate in elections, while Kentucky requires that employees be provided at least four hours of unpaid leave. 

Employers should know that each state has different requirements and threshold for the requirements as well.  For example, while some states may require an employer to provide voting leave without conditions, other states only require an employer to give time off to vote if the polls are not open for more than two hours outside the employee’s regular work schedule. 

Election Leave:
Some states require that employers provide time off to employees who are going to participate in the election.  For example, Virginia requires that employees are provided time off to be election officials.  Again, each state has its own unique requirements and thresholds for employees to take advantage of these provisions. 

Other Election Related Employment Laws:
Employers should also be aware that many states restrict an employer’s ability to promote specific candidates for public office.  For example, Indiana restricts an employer’s ability to influence the political opinions of its employees by printing certain political messages on pay envelopes.  States impose stiff penalties for attempting to influence employees’ political opinions when prohibited.

Action Items: 
To ensure compliance, employers should:

  1. Consult with their attorney to determine whether the states in which they operate contain leave requirements or other related rights or restrictions;
  2. Review their policies and practices to ensure that they comply with state and federal laws; and
  3. Make changes to come into compliance if necessary.

Please contact us if you have any question or concerns regarding these matters.

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