Midterm Elections and Voting Leave Laws

With the 2022 midterm elections fast approaching, employers need to make sure they comply with applicable laws concerning permitting employees time off to vote in elections. There is no applicable federal law that governs voting leave, but most states require employers to provide some amount of leave to vote.


In Illinois, employees are allowed two successive hours during open poll times (which are 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) to vote. Employers may determine when those two successive hours fall during the day. For example, if an employee’s shift does not begin until 4:00 p.m., the employer may specify that the employee is to vote during the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so that the employee’s time off to vote does not interfere with work obligations. Where an employee’s working hours begin less than two hours after polls open and end less than two hours before polls close, however, the employer must allow the employee to take off 2 successive hours during working time. Note that employees are only entitled to time off to vote if they have requested that time prior to Election Day. If the leave request is granted, such time must be paid.


Missouri also has a statute which requires employers to allow employees time off to vote. In Missouri, employees are entitled to three (3) successive hours during open poll times (6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) to vote. Similar to Illinois, employees who are scheduled to be off-duty for at least 3 successive hours during open poll times are not entitled to additional time off to vote. If an employee is entitled to time off, the employer may determine which 3 successive hours the employee may be absent. For example, if an employee works 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the employer may satisfy its obligation under the statute by allowing the employee to come to work one hour late or leave work one hour early. Any time missed as a result of this leave should be paid.


Further, employers must not penalize an employee who takes time off to vote in accordance with their respective state statute.


The majority of states have enacted similar statutes allowing employees some type of leave to vote. With elections around the corner, every employer should review its state’s voting leave law to ensure it is in compliance.


The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

Learn more aboutStephen B. Maule
Stephen’s practice includes all aspects of labor and employment law. He assists employers with immigration petitions to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, including H-1B, TN and permanent residency. He has also represented employers in investigations conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.