At long last, election day will be here tomorrow (Tuesday, November 6, 2018)! While many people already have voted, the majority will be voting tomorrow.
Remember, in Minnesota, employees have the right to take time off from work to vote! Specifically, 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. This means, among others, that an employer cannot require an employee to use accrued paid time off or vacation time.
Click here for the Minnesota law regarding an employee’s right to time off from work to vote – Minnesota Statute 204C.04. A person who violates this law is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Employees who serve as election judges also have the right to take time off from work, but the rules are a little different than those related to taking time off to vote.
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 the employee gives his/her 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.
Unlike time off to vote, 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.