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Employees’ right to voting time off more limited than most realize

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q Historically, we have allowed employees to take two hours off with pay on days when there are federal, state, or local elections. Our new vice president of HR says only certain employees are entitled to such leave and that it’s not paid leave. What are our obligations under Georgia law?

AGeorgia law requires all employers to permit their employees to take time off to vote in any municipal, county, state or federal political election. Your new VP is obviously aware that there are a number of limitations.

First, the law requires employees to be registered and qualified voters. Second, employees aren’t entitled to voting leave if their work schedules begin at least two hours after the polls open or end at least two hours before they close. If the polls open at 7:00 am and close at 7:00 pm, there’s no required leave for employees scheduled to report to work at or after 9:00 am or whose work day ends at or before 5:00 pm. Third, employees forfeit their entitlement to leave if they fail to provide reasonable notice to the employer. Fourth, employees may take no more than two hours to vote, and the employer may specify the time. The law is silent on whether voting leave may be unpaid, although the Georgia attorney general has expressed the opinion that paid leave is required.

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