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Is time off for voting required? Paid?

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Q. Must an employer give employees time off to vote? If so, must we pay employees for the time they spend voting?

A. You must allow your employees to vote, but you do not have to include that time in computing their pay. Texas law prohibits employers from refusing to allow employees to take time off to vote on Election Day. It is also an offense to penalize (or threaten to penalize) a worker for going to the polls on Election Day.

However, an employer need not give an employee time off during working hours to vote if the polls are open for two consecutive hours outside the employee’s working hours. For example, the polls in the upcoming election close at 7 p.m. If your employee who wishes to vote is scheduled to clock out at 5 p.m. and you let her leave then, you do not need to provide her any time off during the working day. If, however, the employee is scheduled to work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (and voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), you must permit the worker to leave to vote.

It is also a felony for an employer to retaliate against a worker for voting for a particular candidate or measure, or for refusing to reveal how he or she voted.

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