Issue: Some states require you to give employees time off to vote.
Benefit: You typically don't have to pay for this "voting leave."
Action: Learn your state law and craft your policy around it.With the presidential primary season upon us, employees will be casting their votes, possibly during work hours.
While federal law remains silent on the issue, at least 32 states require private organizations to give time off to vote if the polls are not open during off-duty time.
But you don't need to provide paid time off if the polls are open a certain amount of time, usually two or three hours, while the employee is off duty. To read your state's law on this issue, click on an interactive map at www.toolkit.cch.com/text/p05_4335.asp.
Advice: To make sure all your employees understand the rules, learn your state law and write a policy based on it. Encourage employees to vote, but explain to hourly employees whether they'll be paid or not.
Here's how a retail company handled its policy: "On Election Days, employees are encouraged to vote, but they are expected to do so either before or after work. If there are extenuating circumstances, arrangements can be made with the supervisor for unpaid time off to vote."
Final tip: Never try to steer employees toward a candidate. Almost every state forbids employers from using threats or employment consequences to influence an employee's vote.
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