Voting is an important civic duty and we encourage all staff members to exercise this right. Although we hope our staff members can find the time before and/or after work to vote, we certainly can make reasonable schedule accommodations for a staff member if they let us know of this scheduling need in advance. Should this be the case, the staff member should reach out to their leadership team.
This is one of the topics under Guidelines and Policies on our intercompany website. It’s listed along with such topics as Bereavement, Jury Duty, and even Relocation Guidelines and Social Media Guidelines.
In writing this blog, I was all set to talk about how ALL U.S. employers are required to allow an employee time to vote and that I appreciate how Room & Board very clearly states it as part of our policy. But with a little bit of Google research, it didn’t take me long to see that that’s not the case at all. A person’s right to take time from work to vote is really decided on a state-by-state basis. Depending on where you live, the answer may be: “of course!” “nope” or “well, it depends” – even during a presidential election.
There are currently 30 states with varying laws regarding employee voting rights and 20 other states with no laws at all. Of the 30 states with laws, 18 of those states have no penalties at all if your employer chooses to deny you time off to vote. Even with laws, some employers may choose to mark any time off needed for voting as unpaid.
With this new understanding, I’m even more thankful for our company policy, no matter what state in which you work. Room & Board believes that “each staff member is afforded the flexibility to balance his or her personal obligations with equal priority to the needs of the business.” Equal priority; I like that.
It’s a relationship that takes responsible commitment from both sides for it to work. Whether it be a sick child or a sick pet, car trouble or a long line at the polls – Room & Board works through each with trust and understanding and prefers to pay individuals for missed time and not reduce one’s pay or request the use of vacation time.
In the coming presidential election I don’t foresee needing to change my schedule in order to cast my very important vote, but if I did, I would trust that my leadership team and my company would be ok with it. It’s a thought that leaves me hopeful for the future – mine and my country’s.