Vote! And remember that your employees are entitled to time off to vote!

By Erica Reib, O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing, S.C.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022, is Election Day. Although early voting is underway, many people will want to vote in-person on Election Day. All Wisconsin employers, regardless of size, are required to provide employees who are eligible to vote up to three consecutive hours of unpaid leave to vote while the polls are open (from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.). Employees must request the time off prior to Election Day. Employers cannot deny voting leave on the basis that employees would have time outside of their scheduled work hours to vote while the polls are open, but employers can specify which three hours an employee may utilize (e.g., the beginning or end of the workday). Employers may not penalize employees for using voting leave. Although voting leave is unpaid, employers should remember that, under the FLSA, they may not deduct from an exempt employee’s salary for partial day absences.

Additionally, all Wisconsin employers are required to grant 24 hours of unpaid leave to an employee who is appointed to serve as an election official. This election official leave is for the Election Day on which the employee serves in his or her official capacity. Employers may not penalize employees for using election official leave. Employees must provide their employers with notice of their need for this leave at least seven days prior to Election Day.

Finally, Wisconsin employers are not permitted to make threats that are intended to influence the political opinions or actions of their employees. Specifically, employers cannot distribute printed materials to employees that threaten to shut down the business, in whole or in part, or to reduce the salaries or wages of employees if a certain party or candidate is elected or if any referendum is adopted or rejected.

Erica is a member of O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. She assists clients with employment discrimination litigation, non-competition and trade secret litigation, Occupational Safety and Health matters, wage and hour issues, NLRB and unfair labor practice matters, employment policy and agreement drafting and review, unemployment compensation, investigations and proper employment practices to avoid litigation.

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