October 28, 2008Client Alert

Employee Time-Off to Vote: What Is Required for Illinois and Wisconsin Employers?

On Election Day many employers are uncertain over the rights of their employees to take off time from work to vote. With the November 4 election almost upon us, it is important that employers understand their employee’s rights and their obligations.

While there are no federal laws that require employers to provide their employee’s with time-off to vote, both Illinois and Wisconsin, along with many other states, do have laws that govern the rights of employees to take time-off from work to vote.

In Illinois any person who is entitled to vote is entitled to be absent from work for a period of 2 hours between the time of the opening and closing of the polls. To exercise this right, the employee must request the time off to vote prior to Election Day. Upon receipt of a timely request, the employer can specify the hours that an employee may be absent to vote. Since election polls in Illinois are open from 6 am to 7 pm, the vast majority of employees will be able to vote before or after their work hours and therefore, the employer can specify voting times that do not conflict with work hours or which reduce the amount of work absence. However, Illinois employees whose work hours begin less than 2 hours after the opening of the polls, and end less than 2 hours before the polls close are entitled to a paid absence of up to 2 hours during their work day to vote. The employer may specify the hours to be taken off.

In Wisconsin any person entitled to vote is entitled to be absent from work while the polls are open for up to 3 successive hours. The employee shall notify the employer of the need for time off prior to Election Day, and the employer may specify the hours that the employee may take off to vote. The time-off to vote may be unpaid.

Many other states also have laws governing time-off to vote. For any questions concerning employment issues that may arise on Election Day in any state where you have employees, please contact Steven J. Teplinsky at 312.222.0800, or, or any other Michael Best employment relations attorney.

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