Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Give Your Employees Time Off to Vote!

With Election Day fast approaching, employers should be aware of their obligations to employees who wish to vote. While no federal laws require employers to give employees time off to vote, many states have passed such laws.

Illinois is one of those states. Illinois law (10 ILCS 5/17-15) requires employers to give employees two consecutive hours of paid time off on the day of an election in order to vote. This two hours of time off can only take place during the time that the polls are open, which this year will be from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. So, this law does not permit employees to take time off from work for early voting.

Employees must request time off to vote prior to Election Day. Employees who are not required to work for a two hour time period after the polls open or before they close are not entitled to time off from work. This means that an employee who works a shift from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. would not be able to request two hours off to vote. Employers can specify when their employees can take their time off.

Only employees who are eligible to vote may take time off to do so. That means that unregistered voters or those employees who do not have the right to vote (i.e. felons, non-citizens, etc.) cannot request time off to vote. Employers have the right to ask an employee to provide proof of his or her eligibility prior to providing time off to vote.

Employers must provide their employees with time off to vote for every election, not just state and federal elections. This means that an employee has a right to two hours of time off to vote in a municipal election. However, employers do not have to provide employees with time off to vote in a primary. Only general or special elections are covered by Illinois law.

Employers with 25 or more employees also must permit an employee to take time off to serve as an election judge. However, an employee must provide his or her employer with 20 days of written notice prior to taking time off to serve as an election judge. An employer is not required to pay an employee for this time off.

Contact an Ancel Glink attorney if you have questions relating to this issue. Also, Ancel Glink has a robust election law practice, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions related to election law.