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Understanding your employees’ voting rights

VOTE: Understanding employee voting rights

As Election Day draws near, employers need to be mindful of their responsibilities to employees who want to exercise their right to vote. Voting leave laws vary from state to state, but in Hawaii, employees are entitled to at least two hours off from work to vote, excluding lunch breaks and rest periods.

Violation of the law can result in penalties. Being informed on Hawaii voting laws will help you avoid those penalties and minimize business disruptions.

What does Hawaii law say about employee voting rights?

Employees are entitled to leave on Election Day for voting under Hawaii Revised Statutes § 11-95.

The law states the following:

  • Employees working on Election Day are entitled to a maximum of two consecutive hours off from work in order to vote (excluding lunch or rest periods).
  • Employers may not impose a penalty on the employee, reschedule normal hours, or make deductions from salary or wages because of this absence.
  • Employers may request that all employees who take time off to vote present a voter’s receipt as proof of voting. An employer may make appropriate deductions from the salary or wages of an employee who takes time off to vote but fails to present proof.
  • Employers who refuse to provide time off to their workers to vote or subject an employee to a penalty or deduction of wages because of taking time off to vote are subject to a fine of no less than $50 and up to $300.

NOTE: Hawaii polling places are open from 7:00am to 6:00pm. If an employee’s work schedule is such that he/she has a period of two consecutive hours (excluding any lunch or rest periods) between the time of opening and closing of the polls in which he/she is not working for the employer, providing time off to vote is not required.

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Tips for minimizing workplace disruptions

The right to vote is an important privilege and civic obligation for individuals that are eligible to vote. Still, losing all your employees for up to two hours during the workday can make daily operations difficult. Consider implementing these three strategies to help minimize disruption to your workflow on Election Day.

Notify employees about their voting rights

Though employers are not required to notify employees of their right to take time off to vote, doing so is a good way to make sure everyone is on the same page come Election Day. It also facilitates community engagement, which tends to make people happier and more productive.

Set your company up for a smooth day by providing information about the nearest polling office, parking options, and the fact that this process should take relatively little time.

Request advance notice to prepare for absences

In addition to notifying employees about their right to vote, you may want to organize a voting schedule and arrange for absences ahead of time. Give this responsibility to your department managers as they’ll have the best understanding of workloads and can help create a schedule that causes the least disruption to productivity.

Require proof of voting

Make sure your employees know that proof of voting is required so they aren’t caught off guard on the day-of. Determine who will collect voting receipts and ensure that you have a good system in place for keeping track of this information.

For more information about Hawaii employer responsibilities to employees when it comes to voting or other important matters, contact one of our HR Representatives at (808) 791-4900.

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