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.