With the Wisconsin general election coming up next week on November 6, 2018, now is the time for employers to brush up on their obligations surrounding voting.
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. Other than the time being unpaid, employers may not penalize employees for using voting leave. However, 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. Employees must provide their employers with at least seven days’ notice of their need for this leave. Other than the time being unpaid, employers may not penalize employees for using election official 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 business shut down, in whole or in part, or reduction in salaries or wages of employees if a certain party or candidate is elected or if any referendum is adopted or rejected.