Corporations Step Up to Encourage Voting

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

September 23, 2020

Old Navy, Bank of America and many other corporations have revised their workplace policies to encourage employees to participate in the upcoming election on November 3. The changes ensure that employees will be paid for the time they need while voting or serving as election workers at the polls.

Old Navy, a subsidiary of Gap, Inc., announced it will pay store employees who work the polls on Election Day. In its announcement, Old Navy said store associates who serve as poll workers will be compensated for up to eight hours of pay, and employees will be able to retain any compensation paid by their local jurisdiction. Other companies offering PTO to employees who serve as election workers include Target, eyewear company Warby Parker and DC-based coffee chain Compass Coffee.

Many banks also have taken steps to make it easier for their employees to vote. Bank of America is providing employees who work 20 hours or more per week up to three hours of time off to vote in any local, state or federal election. J.P. Morgan Chase is offering up to four hours of PTO for employees to vote if they are unable to vote before or after work, while PNC will allow its employees who cannot vote before or after their shift to take time off as needed.

Time to Vote, a "business-led, nonpartisan coalition" whose goal is to increase voter participation in US elections, announced last month that more than 700 companies have pledged to grant their employees unpaid or paid time off (PTO) to vote on Election Day and to promote initiatives such as early voting and vote-by-mail. Time to Vote member companies represent more than 6 million employees.

A Pew Research analysis of Census Bureau data found that scheduling conflicts was the third highest reason cited for not voting in the 2016 presidential election. More than half of the states have laws that require employers to provide leave time for employees to vote, and 20 states require voting leave to be paid. However, the amount of leave and pay varies widely across jurisdictions.