With the election quickly approaching, employers need to be mindful of employee’s rights to take time off work in order to exercise their right to vote.
Federal law does not address the right of an employee to take leave from work for voting purposes; however, most states do have some form of “voting leave law.” Wisconsin’s leave allowance is one of the most gracious – allowing a maximum of three hours during an employee’s work day.
This little-known law has been in place since 1945, and is surprisingly underutilized. The law allows an employee who is eligible to vote and is unable to vote during non-working hours to request leave for a maximum of 3 consecutive hours for voting purposes.
Employees must submit a written request for leave to their employer with at least two days advanced notice prior to Election Day and must be eligible Wisconsin voters to qualify for this entitlement. The employee’s application should outline the reasons for their need to vote during working hours, as well as the estimated time it will take to travel to the polling location, cast their vote and return to work. Additionally, it is the employer, not the employee, who designates the time of day which the employee may take their leave. (s. ER 18.11, Wis. Admin. Code)
Employers are required to provide this leave without penalty to the employee; however, an employer is not required to pay the employee for their time away. Employers who have an active Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place should examine their CBA to ensure additional provisions do not apply. The Wisconsin statute specifically extends this law to apply to both public and private employees. (Wis. Stat. § 6.76(1))
KerberRose encourages everyone who is eligible, regardless of political opinion, to exercise their right to vote on or before November 3, 2020. Make sure you are registered and determine how you will be casting your vote this year by visiting https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/.