Since Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, here are some quick reminders for employers about the Texas election laws that you must follow.
Employers must give all employees a reasonable time off to vote on Tuesday, assuming the employee hasn’t taken advantage of early voting. So here’s how you apply that law:
- You can ask if the employee voted early, but you cannot retaliate against an employee for his/her failure to take advantage of early voting.
- You need to just accept the employee’s word about whether he/she voted early.
A “reasonable time off to vote” is considered two hours. However, since the lines are predicted to be long on Tuesday, do not discipline any employee who has to wait in line to vote and thereby takes a little longer than two hours away from work.
The time off to vote should be paid time off if it cuts across the working hours, according to a Texas Attorney General’s opinion.
It is a crime for an employer to:
- Refuse to allow the employee a reasonable time off during the work day to vote; or
- Impose a penalty on any employee for reporting late or leaving the workplace early to vote.
- There is an exception to the crime if the polls are open for two consecutive hours before or after your employee’s workday on Tuesday. If there are two consecutive hours available to the employee to vote before or after work, then you don’t have to provide any time off to vote or pay for time off to vote. In other words, since the Texas polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, as long as your employee only works between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. that day, you won’t have committed a crime if you don’t allow the employee time off to vote.
Who your employee votes for is none of your business. It is a felony for an employer in Texas to:
- Retaliate against an employee because of the employee’s vote for a particular candidate or ballot measure; or
- Retaliate against an employee who refuses to reveal how he/she voted.
We all have a chance on Tuesday to participate in the greatest privilege granted to us in this democracy. But the real patriots are those employers who not only vote themselves, but support and encourage each of their eligible employees to vote as well.