Employers Can Help Enable and Encourage Employees to Vote

Nov 06, 2018
| David Pearson
Employers Can Help Enable Employees to Vote

Today, November 6, is an important day for citizens of the United States – it’s midterm election day.

It’s a time for Americans to let their voices be heard and help determine the future direction of the United States. However, many citizens fail to vote due to a wide variety of issues, with working hours often at the top of the list. The 2014 midterm elections hit a 72-year low for voter participation.

This is why it is critically important for employers to actively encourage their workforce to exercise their right to vote by providing benefits to employees such as paid leave (which some states require).

However, even in states where there is no legal requirement, more employers are offering paid leave on election days to make it easier for employees to vote.
 

Employers Are Feeling More Responsibility to Encourage Voting Participation

While some states, such as New York, have laws in place that require paid leave for voting, many do not while others allow for unpaid leave.

Just because an employer operates in a state that doesn’t have any state legislation around paid leave for voting doesn’t mean they cannot create their own policy that makes it easier for employees to participate.

And it appears that more employers are doing just that. A 2018 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 44% of United States employers offer their staff paid time off for voting. This represents an all-time high, with 42% of employers offering this benefit in 2017.

Additionally, SHRM found that the percentage of employers offering unpaid time off to vote decreased from 33% in 2017 to 29% in 2018. And while this appears like a potential negative, SHRM believes this is because employers are shifting to paid time off policies for voting, which is a positive sign.
 

Help Employees Exercise Their Right to Vote

Compared to other countries, the United States ranks surprisingly low for voter turnout despite how important this right is, and the impact voting results have for the country.

Employers are in a position to help reverse this trend by encouraging employees to vote and providing them ample time to do so, even if state laws don’t require it.

Employers should keep this in mind for future elections, while also paying close attention to their state laws around leave benefits for voting.

Employers are also able to boost employee morale, engagement, and happiness by enabling their workforce to participate in today’s midterm elections as well as putting policies in place to help with future elections to come.
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