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Voting Leave Laws in Massachusetts and Connecticut: What are an Employer’s Obligations?

Published:  October 31, 2016

        Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day, and voters in both Massachusetts and Connecticut will be going to the polls to choose the next President of the United States. 

        This year, Massachusetts voters have the opportunity to cast their vote early at a voting location in their community or by mail.  The early voting period began on October 24th, and ends on November 4th.  Connecticut does not permit early voting.

        As an employer, are you required to give your employees time off to vote?  Must you pay your employees for that time?  You may be wondering what your obligations are.  There is no Federal law requiring employers to give their employees time off to vote, but Massachusetts and Connecticut employers should be aware of any state laws specifying time-off requirements for employees on Election Day.  Here are the facts broken down by state:

MASSACHUSETTS

In Massachusetts, employees of manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishments are entitled to voting leave.  Employees in these industries may take time off to vote within the first two (2) hours after the polls open, so long as they have requested the time off in advance.  The law does not require that the leave be paid, and does not apply to employers in other industries who may require that their employees vote during non-business hours.

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut does not have a law which requires an employer to grant its employees leave, either paid or unpaid, to vote.

There is a law on the books, however, that prohibits employers from making threats or promises, or from dismissing an employee, on account of his or her vote.  While the prohibited conduct in this 66-year-old law may seem extreme, Connecticut employers should still avoid the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees.

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If you have any questions regarding voting leave laws, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal, P.C.

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