Employment LawScene Alert: The Election Is Almost Here—Voting Leave in Wisconsin

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is Election Day. Although early voting is underway and many individuals have already returned their absentee ballots, many people will want to vote in-person on Election Day. All Wisconsin employers are required to provide employees who are eligible to vote up to three consecutive hours of unpaid leave to vote while the polls are open (from 7 AM until 8 PM), and employees must request the time off prior to the election. Voting leave cannot be denied on the basis that employees would have time outside of their scheduled work hours to vote while the polls are open, but employers can specify which three hours an employee is permitted to utilize. Employers may not penalize employees for using voting leave. Although voting leave is unpaid, employers should remember that, under the FLSA, they may not deduct from an exempt employee’s salary for partial day absences.

Additionally, all Wisconsin employers are also required to grant an employee who is appointed to serve as an election official 24 hours of unpaid leave for the election day in which the employee serves in his or her official capacity. Employers may not penalize employees for using election official leave. Employees must provide their employers with at least seven days’ notice of their need for this leave.

Finally, Wisconsin employers are not permitted to make threats that are intended to influence the political opinions or actions of their employees. Specifically, employers cannot distribute printed materials to employees that threaten to shut down the business, in whole or in part, or reduce the salaries or wages of employees if a certain party or candidate is elected or if any referendum is adopted or rejected.

As always, O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing is here for you. We encourage you to reach out with any questions, concerns, or legal issues you may have.

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