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Are You Supposed to Get Time Off Work to Vote on Election Day?

AKRON, OH - OCTOBER 25: Campaign signs are placed outside of a polling precinct open for early voting on October 25, 2016 in Akron, Ohio. Ohio has become one of the key battleground states in the 2016 presidential election with both candidates or their surrogates making weekly visits to the Buckeye State. Unlike other parts of America, Ohio has both a rapidly aging and declining population; it is also overwhelmingly white and has a high degree of residents without a college education. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Are you supposed to get time off work to vote? (Getty)

One of the biggest problems that people face on election day is finding time to get out and vote. Not everyone can just walk away from work, especially if they live in a state where the polls lines are hours long. And although some people can just go to vote when work ends, not everyone has that luxury or the right work schedule. So, are employers supposed to allow their employees to take time off to vote?

Here’s what you need to know.

According to the AFL-CIO, federal law does not require that employers give their staff time off to vote. However, states have instituted their own laws on the matter, with some allowing up to three hours off to vote. Not all states require that employees be paid for this time off. Here are the rules for states that allow time off, according to the AFL-CIO. Note that this is not legal advice, and the rules are subject to change and may be more detailed than listed below. You should want check AFL-CIO or FindLaw for additional details or updates. FindLaw also lists specific related statutes with links.

Alabama — Unpaid time is allowed, but only if the employee’s work schedule finished less than an hour before the polls close, and he started work less than two hours after the polls open.

Alaska — Paid time off is allowed, unless the employee has two hours to vote before or after work, within polling hours. There’s no time limit.

Arizona — A maximum of three hours paid time off is allowed, unless the employee has three hours to vote before or after work, within polling hours. The time off can only be taken at the beginning or end of a shift and must be requested the day before.

Arkansas — Unpaid time off is allowed.

California — A maximum of two hours of paid time off is allowed. Two days notice is required if the employee’s voting three or more days before the election.

Colorado — A maximum of two hours paid time off is allowed, unless the employee has two hours to vote before or after work, within polling hours. Requires prior notice.

Georgia — Must give notice. Unpaid time off is allowed, unless the employee has two hours to vote before or after work, during polling hours.

Hawaii – If the employee’s job begins less than two hours after polls open or before they close, the employer must give him paid time off, excluding lunch or rest breaks. But if the employee takes the time off and doesn’t vote, his wages can be deducted.

Illinois – An employee must give at least a day notice before election day, and employees aren’t required to allow time off for voting on election day itself. He must be given two paid hours to vote, only if the work schedule begins less than two hours after polls open or less than two hours before they cloe.

Iowa – If the employee’s schedule doesn’t allow him to have three hours to vote within the polling hours, then he may leave work to vote on election day and get up to three hours paid time off. He must give his employer written notice before election day.

Kansas – Employers must give paid time off to vote, unless polls are open for two hours before or after the employee’s schedule. Time off doesn’t include a lunch break.

Kentucky – Employers must give employees up to four hours of paid time off to vote on election day or during early voting, as long as notice is given. These hours don’t have to be paid, but the employee can’t be penalized unless he doesn’t actually vote.

Maryland – Employers must give employees up to two hours of paid time off, unless the employee already has two hours off during poll hours. Employees must provide proof that they voted or attempted to vote.

Massachusetts – Employees can get unpaid time off during the first two hours after polls open, if they work in manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile/retail establishments. They must apply for leave of absence.

Minnesota – An employer is required to give paid time off.

Missouri – An employer is required to give three hours of paid time off, if the employee doesn’t already have three hours off during poll hours. Notification must be given before election day.

Nebraska – An employer must give two hours of paid time off, if the employee doesn’t already have two hours off during poll hours and has given notice.

Nevada – Employers must give one to three hours of paid time off, depending on how close the employee works to the polling site.

New Mexico – Employers must give two hours of paid time off, if the employee doesn’t already have two hours off after polls open or before they close.

New York – Employers must give two hours of paid time off, and the employee can take off additional unpaid time if needed. Notification must be given at least two days prior. If the employee has four hours off while the polls are open, this doesn’t apply.

North Dakota – Recommends but doesn’t require time off.

Ohio  – Employers must give time off. Only salaried employees get paid time off.

Oklahoma – Employers must give two hours of paid time off, if they start working less than three hours after polls open and finish less than three hours before they close. They must give notice and provide proof they voted.

South Dakota – Employers must give two hours of paid time off, if they don’t have two hours off after polls open or before they close.

Tennessee – Employers must give three hours of paid time off, if employees don’t already have three hours off during poll hours.

Texas  – Employers must give paid time off, if employees don’t already have two hours off during poll hours.

Utah – Employers must give two hours of paid time off, if employees don’t already have three hours off during poll hours. Employees must request leave before election day.

Vermont – This is a little complicated. A law applying to unpaid time off for town meetings might be applicable.

West Virginia – Employers are required to give three hours of paid time off, if employees don’t already have three hours off during poll hours. Leave must be requested three days before election day.

Wisconsin – Employers are required to give three hours of unpaid time off. Notification of at least one day is needed.

Wyoming – Employers must give one hour of paid time off, if employees don’t have three hours off during poll hours.

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