Will offering PTO to go to the polls get more workers to vote?
- A large segment of the American population – 42.5% – doesn’t vote, says Employee Benefits News. Excuses for not voting range from forgetting to being sick to not caring for the candidates. But U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the biggest excuse given for 28% of eligible voters is that they’re too busy.
- Through early voting or absentee ballots, four million votes have already been counted. The Pew Research Center estimates that as many as 50 million votes will be cast by some means other than going to the polls. States have found a solution to the problem of not voting by offering unpaid or paid time off to go to the polls.
- Nearly half the states, 23, allow PTO for voting. The rest allow non-paid time or have no requirements.
New York offers residents two paid hours to vote if they lack four consecutive free hours to go to the polls. Ohio forbids employees to be punished for taking time out to vote, but only salaried get paid. Massachusetts and Alabama are among six states that allow workers unpaid time off to vote. Connecticut doesn’t mandate employers to give workers time off to vote.
Offering time off to vote – even if unpaid – shows support for civic-minded workers who value their voting rights. However, companies considering paid leave as an option for voting must weigh the time and cost involved.