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Employee time off for voting – what should an employer do?

October 3, 2012

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Michael J. Burns  

As the November 6th election date approaches and the election season builds to a fever pitch, employers should be aware of their state’s laws pertaining to employee time off to vote. More than thirty states have laws governing such time off for employees.

The state laws addressing employee voting time range from Missouri and California, which require paid time off for employees to vote, to several states that require job protection but not pay protection to employees who take time off to vote, to North Dakota which has a law that “encourages” employers to provide time off to employees to vote without offering any specific protections to employees, to states that simply have no law addressing the subject at all.

Michigan is one of 17 states in the latter group. It has no law that either requires or permits employees time off to vote. Therefore, employers can require employees who want to vote to do so during non-working hours. Employers can “dock” non-exempt employees for time they take off during the workday to vote.

Employers need to remember, however, not to dock exempt employees for time they take off to vote. Doing so amounts to a deduction from pay, which could result in a loss of exemption for that position.

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