On Election Day, What Are Your Rights at Work?

On Election Day, What Are Your Rights at Work?

With Election Day just around the corner, many of us are making plans for how to vote this year. There are many options, including mail-in voting, early voting, and the traditional in-person voting on November 3rd. If you are opting to vote in person, you might be wondering what rights you have at your workplace to ensure that you cast your vote on time.

Long lines are already forming at early voting sites, leaving many would-be voters concerned about the time it may take to vote in person, whether they do so early or on Election Day. While early voting sites in Chicago are open all week, as usual, Election Day falls on a routine workday, Tuesday, November 3rd.

Leave to Vote

If you are hoping to vote on Election Day, you might have certain workplace rights that allow you time off to vote. Subject to certain restrictions, workers are granted up to two consecutive hours of leave under Illinois law. Employees seeking this leave must provide notice to their employer in advance of Election Day.

Employers have discretion to decide when an employee may be granted leave during the workday, and can encourage employees to use their non-work time to vote. For example, an employee whose shift ends at 4 p.m. could be required to vote after the shift ends.

If an employee’s work shift starts less than two hours after polls open (6:00 a.m. in Chicago for the upcoming election) and ends less than two hours before polls close (7:00 p.m.), employers must provide that employee 2 hours of leave during the day so he or she can vote. Moreover, this special voting break constitutes paid leave. For example, an employee whose shift begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m. would need to be provided with paid leave to vote.

Employers may not penalize or otherwise discriminate against employees who seek to exercise their right to take leave in order to vote.

Leave to Serve as an Election Judge

This year, the State of Illinois projects a shortage of election judges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The State is making pleas to those who are least vulnerable to the virus to volunteer as a judge.

Employers in Illinois with 25 or more employees must accommodate employees who wish to serve as election judges or to volunteer in other election-related activities. However, employees seeking leave must provide their employers with at least 20 days’ written notice. Further, such leave does not have to be paid.

Employers may not penalize or otherwise discriminate against employees who seek to exercise their right to take leave in order to serve as an election judge.

If you have questions regarding your rights as an employee, or your obligations as an employer, regarding Election Day, contact a Prinz Law Firm attorney for guidance.

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