Giving Workers Time Off to Vote Is Good Business

If civic responsibility isn’t reason enough for you to give employees time off to vote Tuesday, try these two:

  1. Employees who do get time off are more loyal and supportive of their employer.
  2. It may be the law.

Since compliance is easier for HR to sell, let’s start there.

30 states have laws requiring employers to give their workers time off to vote. The largest share of these — 20, 21 if you count Ohio’s split pay requirement — allow workers to vote while on the clock. And that can be as much as 3 hours time. The balance of the voting time off states don’t require employers to pay workers, but they must still allow them to leave work for an hour, or 2 or 3 or, in Kentucky, 4 hours to vote.

There are limits: While they vary from state to state, the rules are generally:

  • Workers must give their employer notice of intent to leave on Tuesday to go vote. Some states require a day; some two. Others say “reasonable” notice.
  • Employers can generally say when the time off is allowed, but at the beginning or end of a shift is often the law’s recommendation or requirement.
  • If the employee has at least two or three hours before or after beginning work to vote, then time off from work is not required.
  • In a handful of states — Hawaii and Kentucky being two — if the worker leaves but doesn’t vote, they can be disciplined.

Business Insider has a state-by-state list of time off rules and a handy map highlighting were each state stands on voting time off rules.

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Even if you’re in one of the 20 states that have no time off requirements, allowing workers to come in later, leave earlier or take an extended lunch hour to vote is to your benefit. It sends the message that voting is important and that your company has a sense of civic responsibility. But it also is evidence of the kind of supportive workplace you have. A survey of 1,000 workers by the HR recognitions and rewards firm O.C. Tanner found  that employees of companies with a time off for voting policy had higher engagement and worker approval than those at companies who don’t give them the time off.

The survey found that of those who get time off to vote:

  • 72% say their job allows them to balance their work and personal life, as opposed to only 56%of respondents who are not allowed flexibility during the workday to vote
  • 71% say they support the values for which their organization stands, as opposed to only 55%of respondents who are not allowed flexibility during the workday to vote
  • 65% say they would recommend their organization to a friend as a good place to work, as opposed to 47% of respondents who are not allowed flexibility during the workday to vote
  • 69% are proud to tell others that they work for their organization, as opposed to only 51% of respondents who are not allowed flexibility during the workday to vote
  • 69% have a strong desire to be working for their current employer in a year from now, as opposed to only 48% of respondents who are not allowed flexibility during the workday to vote

I probably don’t have to explain that the companies with a time off policy have a culture that is supportive of their workers. The time off is a part of that culture, and not the cause of the higher engagement. But if you want your workers to have the same, positive opinion that the workers in the Tanner survey do, starting with a voting time off allowance can be your first step.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


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