It’s not required by Michigan law – but more employers nationwide are granting paid and unpaid time to vote

October 25, 2018
Detroit, Michigan

While a record 44% of U.S. firms will give employees paid time-off to vote on November 6, according to a recent Bloomberg article and other published reports,  Michigan workers should not just assume their employers are going to grant them time away from work to cast a ballot on Election Day.  Allowing time off to vote varies by state, but in Michigan the right to vote does not include the right to leave work to vote, much less be paid for it, says attorney Nicholas Huguelet of Detroit-based management side labor and employment law firm Nemeth Law, P.C.

“While the majority of employers encourage their employees to vote, historically most have not created special schedules or policies allowing them to do so - although that appears to be changing,” Huguelet said. “National efforts like ElectionDay.org are encouraging employers to incentivize workers to vote via paid-time-off options or easing other barriers that may hinder voting.”

Huguelet adds that he does see Nemeth Law clients making some subtle changes, too.

“More clients are either providing employees time off to vote, or at least considering it” Huguelet said. “For example, one client provides employees three hours of paid leave if the employee cannot vote otherwise due to their work schedule. Another allows employees to use their banked PTO to take time off. An important consideration is to have employees submit requests for leave time in advance to ensure that the employer still has coverage for all shifts.”

It’s important to note that some Michigan workers have a long-standing tradition of getting paid time off to vote.

“Election Day has been a collectively-bargained holiday for the UAW and other unions for decades, and for many unionized workforces, the holiday naturally extended to the non-unionized workforce,” Huguelet said.

If employers have policies in place to allow for time off to vote, Huguelet advises that the rules be well-defined as to whether advance notice is required so that temporary coverage can be arranged; who is required to arrange for coverage; whether the time off is paid or unpaid; how much advance notice is required; who must be notified; and how the notification must be made.

Michigan does provide some protections to employees when it comes to voting, Huguelet adds. Michigan Election Law:

  1. Prohibits employers from discharging—or threatening to discharge—an employee in an attempt to influence the employee's election decision
  2. Prohibits employers from promising something of value, such as bonuses, extra vacation days, wage increases, etc., to influence an election decision

About Nemeth Law, P.C.

Nemeth Law specializes in arbitration, mediation, workplace investigations, employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation/training for private and public sector employers. It is the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.