Workers speak out about taking time off to vote

With midterm elections coming up soon in the U.S., some workers are concerned about whether their employers will allow them to take time off to vote.

According to online discussions, workers report a variety of different responses when they have approached their employers about taking time off to vote. While some bosses were very encouraging and let employees get off early to get to the polls, others faced backlash. For example, this Twitter user reports that her boss would not let her leave 30 minutes early to go vote, so she decided to take the whole day off in November.

Even in states where laws require employers to give workers time off to vote, some bosses reportedly discourage employees from doing so. This Twitter user says that her boss acknowledged his legal obligation to give employees paid time off to vote. However, if employees decided to actually take the time, it “was very openly frowned upon”. These threats from employers may create a chilling effect on workers exercising their democratic rights. In fact, according to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 35% respondents said that conflicting work or school schedules kept them away from the polls.

On the other hand, more and more companies are joining efforts to proactively encourage employees to take the time needed to get to the polls on Election Day. Vote.org has gathered a list of over 150 employers who have signed on to give U.S. employees paid time off to vote. Employers can add their company and anyone can find more information at ElectionDay.org.

The companies joining the Time to Vote initiative have committed “to driving voter participation through programs such as paid time off, a no meetings workday, and resources for mail-in ballots and early voting.” Large companies such as Patagonia, Walmart, and Lyft have joined this effort. According to the New York Times, Patagonia is shutting its corporate office and retail stores an entire day on Election Day this year, while Levi’s is giving corporate employees five hours off to go to the polls and its retail employees three hours. Companies hope that these policy changes will help increase voter turnout in the November midterm elections.

Does your employer give you time off to vote? What policies would you like your company to adopt when it comes to voting? Let us know by emailing your thoughts to info@coworker.org or you can start a campaign here: https://www.coworker.org/petition/new.

Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. You can start your own campaign about changes you want to see in your workplace on Coworker.org here — or contact us at info@coworker.org if you would like to discuss a workplace issue with our team.