Voting is a civic duty, and a privilege. It’s something that all of us should have an opportunity to do, and I believe employers build trust, engagement and loyalty among their employees when they provide opportunities for their team members to get to the ballot box. That includes providing time off work, if needed, for everyone to ensure they can get to their designated polling place within the hours it is open.
Some states require that employers give time off to vote. In this list, compiled by the organization Workplace Fairness, all of the requirements are laid out so you can check out what requirements apply to employees in the states where your organization does business. The rules do vary by state regarding when an employee is required to be given time off, when it must be paid, and what the penalties are for non-compliance. For instance, in Colorado, if an employee has three non-work hours to vote while the polls are open, no time off is required.
While following the law is not optional, are employers obligated to make their employees aware of their rights? Many employment laws also require posting to raise awareness, but the time off laws do not seem to mandate this. But should employers make employees aware, or even exceed what the law compels them to do when making it easier for their team members to vote?
Nancy Lyons, of Clockwork, not only decided to give her employees time off to vote, but made the bold decision to close the entire office on election day. In her announcement, Nancy explained that it was a strong statement of the company’s values, in an age where our personal, political and work lives are increasingly intertwined. Nancy shared, “I see this simple act of closing for the day as us demonstrating our values, not just here at work, but in our neighborhoods and greater communities.”
It isn’t always practical to close an entire work location. But in the spirit of encouraging this critically important civic duty celebrating our democracy and valuing our freedom, why not show your employees you value them as well by giving them the opportunity to make their voices heard?