The 2018 Illinois General Election will take place on Tuesday, November 6. Under the current political climate, the push to encourage voters to make it to the polls is palpable. Employers may be wondering what their obligations are to provide time off for their employees to vote.
While federal law does not require employers to provide employees with time off to vote on Election Day, many states, including Illinois, provide for paid time off from work for employees to vote.
In Illinois, employees who are entitled to vote have a right to be absent from work with pay for a period of up to two hours to cast their vote. This right is not without limitations, however. Below are some of the Illinois voting law details:
- Only individuals “entitled to vote” in a general or special election, or at any election at which propositions are submitted to popular vote are entitled to be absent for two hours to vote. Employers can request proof of an employee’s eligibility to vote when receiving a request for time off to vote during work hours. To show eligibility, employees can submit a copy of their voter registration card, or employees or employers can check registration status online.
- The two-hour absence for voting may only occur between the time of opening and closing the polls, which in Illinois is from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Employers may specify the hours during which employees may absent themselves to vote, except that employers must permit a two-hour absence 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.
- Employees are entitled to take time off to vote only if they have applied for or informed their employer of their need for time off to vote in advance of the election. If the request is not timely made (i.e. the employee waits until Election Day before making the request), the employer may deny the request.
- Employers may not subject their employees to any penalties because the employee takes time off to vote.
Illinois employers with 25 or more employees are also required to accommodate employees serving as election judges. An employee appointed to serve as an election judge is entitled to be absent from work for serving in that capacity under the following circumstances:
- The employee must give his or her employer at least 20 days’ written notice of his or her absence.
- Time off serving as an election judge need not be paid.
- An employer may not penalize an employee for that absence other than a deduction in salary for the time the employee was absent from his or her place of employment.
- An employer may not require an employee to use earned vacation time or any form of paid leave time to serve as an election judge.
- Employers are not required to permit more than 10% of their employees to be absent for purposes of serving as election judges on the same election day.
Practice Tip: Voting is the foundation of our democratic system and each voter’s right and civic duty. Employers should be mindful not only of the legal requirements set forth above, but also to respect their employees’ decision to take time off to vote or to participate as an election judge. If you have any specific questions about your obligations under these laws, please contact us.