The Presidential election, along with Federal, State, and Local elections, is on November 3rd and polls are open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. With expectations of a large turnout, employees may need to take time off from work to vote.
Is an employer required to provide time off to vote? The Texas Election Code (Section 276), states that employers must allow employees time to vote and the guidelines are:
· Allow employees at least two hours off to vote on an election day, unless they have voted under early voting procedures
· Time off needs to be paid to the extent that it cuts into the employee's normal working hours
· Time off does not need to be paid if the two hours are available outside of normal working hours
· If the time is taken off from mandatory overtime, the time off should be paid at the rate that would have applied to the time so missed
· If the time is taken off from optional overtime voluntarily requested by the employee, the time off does not need to be paid
For example, if an employee’s work hours are from 8:00 to 5:00, the employee has two consecutive hours after work to vote. However, if the employee’s work hours are from 8:00 to 6:00, two consecutive hours are not available, unless the employee leaves work early. Then, the time off to vote must be paid.
Our recommendation is to be flexible in allowing employees time off for voting. It is an important election and at some polls two hours may not be enough time for voting.