• Time Off to Vote No Longer Limited to Election Day Morning
  • September 28, 2010 | Author: Ingrid Nyberg Culp
  • Law Firm: Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. - Minneapolis Office
  • For some time Minnesota law has given employees who are eligible to vote the right to be absent from work to vote. Until this year, this right to be absent applied only to the morning of election day. During the 2010 session, the Minnesota State Legislature amended the voting leave statute to allow an employee to be absent from work at any time during his or her scheduled hours on election day “for the time necessary to appear at the employee’s polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work.” Minn. Stat. § 204C.04. The statute does not allow an employer to deny an employee time off to vote even if the employee has sufficient time to vote outside of working hours. The statute continues to provide that the absence must be “without penalty or deduction from salary or wages,” meaning the employer must pay the employee for the time missed. Additionally, an employer “may not directly or indirectly refuse, abridge, or interfere” with an employee’s right to paid voting leave. A person who violates this law is guilty of a misdemeanor.

    Unfortunately, the statute does not address whether an employer may coordinate its employees’ time away to vote in order to minimize disruption or ensure proper staffing. The risk of doing so, though, is low, provided the employer allows the employees adequate time off with pay to vote at some point during their scheduled hours.

    Minnesota employers should review their voting leave policies and update them as necessary to remove any language limiting time off to the morning of election day.