Voters in Massachusetts head to the polls tomorrow to cast their votes in state, Congressional and local elections. Federal law does not require companies to allow employees time off from work to vote, but Massachusetts law in some cases does. It is in your best interest to communicate a voting-day policy to your employees prior to Election Day.
Polls in Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Massachusetts General Laws Section 178 states that employees working in manufacturing, mechanical or retail industries whose shift begins at 7 a.m. may not be required to work during the first two hours that polls are open – as long as the worker has requested a leave of absence in advance.
The law does not specify whether the leave is paid or unpaid. In all other industries, if polls are open two or three hours prior to an employee’s regular work hours, the employer is not required to provide time off to vote. Employers may require employees to request time off in advance.
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont do not have state laws specifying time-off requirements for employees on Election Day.
Many employers require employees to vote during non-business hours. Employers may need to be flexible and take an employee’s commuting distance into account when determining the appropriate amount of time to allow for voting.
Employers may not require employees to forfeit their normal lunch time for the purpose of voting. It is also important to remember that employers may not discipline or retaliate against employees for taking time off to vote.