Election Day Paid Time Off

As election day approaches, your employees may be asking for time off to vote. No federal law mandates that you give employees time off (although federal law does prohibit interference with any aspect of the voting process, such as voting, campaigning, or working as a poll watcher or election judge). However, an Illinois law does require than an employer allow paid time off from work to vote, but only if the worker’s start time is within two hours of the polls opening and the end time is within two hours of the polls closing where the employee is registered to vote. Further, employers may not take any disciplinary action against the employee for doing so—the law specifically prohibits a penalty such as a reduction in compensation for the absence.

It’s up to the employee to make request the time off prior to election day, and the employer is entitled to specify when the employee may go to vote. But, the employer must permit a two hour absence (including travel time) during working hours if the employee’s working hours begin less than two hours after the opening of the polls and end less than two hours before the closing of the polls.

In Chicago, polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m., so most Chicago 9-to-5 employers will not be required to give employees time off to vote during business hours.

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