This certainly has been a long election season, but voting day is right around the corner (Tuesday, November 8, 2016)! Are you ready for election day? Do you know what to do if an employee requests time off from work to vote or to serve as an election judge?
Employees Have the Right to Take Time Off From Work to Vote
In Minnesota, employees who are eligible to vote in a covered election are entitled to take time off from work for the period of time necessary to vote at their polling place and return to work. Employers are prohibited from deducting from an individual’s wages or from penalizing an employee because of the absence. A person who violates this law is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Employees Have the Right to Take Time Off From Work to Serve as an Election Judge
What about employees who want time off from work to serve as an election judge. Do employers need to give them time off? If so, is it paid time off?
Under Minnesota law, an individual who is selected to serve as an election judge is allowed to take time off from work, without penalty, provided he/she gives his/her an employer at least 20 days’ written notice. The written notice should be accompanied by a certification from the appointing authority which states the hourly pay rate to be paid to the employee and the hours during which the employee will serve as an election judge. An employer may limit the number of employees absent from work for the purpose of serving as an election judge to no more than 20 percent of the total work force at any single worksite.
The applicable Minnesota statute provides that an employer may reduce an individual’s wages by the amount, if any, paid to the election judge by the appointing authority during the time the employee was absent from work. That said, employers should be very careful when making a deduction for an employee who is exempt from overtime pay requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and similar state laws, as such a deduction may not be allowed under those laws. As such, notwithstanding the Minnesota statute, employers should obtain competent legal advice before making any such deduction.