Election day stress — should employers give us time off to vote?

Just about now, many Americans are strategizing. We're trying to figure out when we will go to the polls tomorrow.

Some of us are fortunate to have our employers give us extended lunches or longer breaks to go vote. Others will have to squeeze it somehow. This could get stressful.

How accommodating do you think employers should be? Is it part of being a good American to encourage your workers to vote? Do you appreciate a little flexibility or expect it? While the polls are open from dawn to dusk, some of us may be late to work or need a longer lunch break than usual or need to leave work a little early, particularly if our polling site is crowded.

Being allowed time off to vote is not a guarantee every employer must make. Some states require it but the law differs from state to state. Click here to see what the law is in your state.

I wouldn't expect the day off as an entitlement, but a little flexibility in start and end times would be appropriate. The most accommodating employers allow their workers time off to vote, sometimes in shifts staggered throughout the day.  

Working parents will have an added concern on Election Day:  do they take the day off to stay home with their school-aged children, or scramble to find someone to care for them?

School systems across the U.S. will close in large part because schools are used as primary polling places.  This forces many working parents to take the day off from work, either as a paid vacation or sick day, or as unpaid time-off.

Again, this is where an accommodating employer can make a HUGE difference. Some employers have anticipated this scenario and offered their employees a solution. Georgia-based WellStar Health Systems relies on back-up child care provider Bright Horizons and gives its workers the option to bring their school-aged children to a licensed childcare center, or opt to have a licensed childcare provider come to their home,  for a small co-payment. 

I feel fortunate that I have a flexible schedule that allows me to work from home while my kids are off of school. I'm planning to take them with me to vote, something my mom did with me.

To me, a boss's attitude on Election Day speaks volumes about how much he values his workers and the political process.

How involved do you think an employer should get in encouraging workers to vote?  


The Work/Life Balancing Act

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