Election day is Tuesday, November 6, 2012 – less than two weeks away! Working a full-time schedule while juggling all of our other responsibilities has many employees wondering whether they are permitted, under Maryland law, to take time off to vote.
Most employees are surprised to learn that under section 10-315 of the Maryland Election Code, every Maryland employer is required to allow any employee who claims to be a registered voter up to two hours off from work to vote. To be eligible for the benefit, however, the employee must not otherwise have two consecutive off-duty hours during the time that the polls are open. In other words, if an employee’s working hours start less than two hours before the polls open and ends less than two hours before the polls close, then the employer is obligated to give the employee two hours off during working hours to vote. For example, an employee who works from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm is entitled to receive two hours of time off to vote if the voting polls are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
The statute provides even more good news for eligible employees. Not only must Maryland employers provide eligible employees with two hours off, but the employer must also pay the employee for the two hours that he or she is absent from work.
While not specifically addressed in section 10-315 of the Maryland Election Code, it would be wise for an employee to give their employer advance notice of the request for leave. In addition, the employee should expect that the employer will seek to specify the time of day during which the employee takes leave to vote. Also, be prepared to provide proof that you voted, as the Election Code states that the employee must provide the employer with proof that the employee actually voted during his or her time-off. The proof can be in the form of a receipt issued by the State Board.
Keep in mind that laws vary state-by-state. Accordingly, employees outside of Maryland must check the state laws for their locale to ensure that they can take the necessary time off on Election Day, and to determine whether they are entitled to be paid for the hours they take off to vote. In addition, employees may want to check with a Maryland employment law attorney to determine whether their Election Day leave would be considered hours worked for the purpose of calculating overtime pay.
Employees or employers who have any additional questions about Election Day rules or any other issues which might arise in the workplace should feel free to contact employment law attorney Judd G. Millman. Mr. Millman is licensed to practice law in both Maryland and Texas, and his practice focuses exclusively on employment law. He regularly counsels both employees and employers on the myriad of legal issues which arise in the workplace, including issues related to working-hours and properly compensating employees for regular and overtime hours. He can be reached directly at (410) 522-1020, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/explode/43951116)