Make a Plan for Attendance Issues on Election Day

October 29, 2020

By: Frances M. Haas

November 3, 2020 is Election Day, and if you haven’t already, now is the time to make a plan for attendance issues. Iowa employers may be required to provide up to three hours of unpaid time off to certain employees to vote. The time-off requirement only applies to employees who do not have a consecutive three-hour period before or after a scheduled shift to vote. Polls are open between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on November 3, 2020. So, employees whose work schedules do not permit them a three-hour window to vote during the polling period, such as an employee who works a twelve-hour shift between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., may be entitled to time off to vote.


If an employee satisfies the timing requirements, the employee must submit a written request in advance to notify the employer of the need to vote. There are no details on how far in advance written notice is required, so it’s possible that an employer may receive time-off requests shortly before election day or a scheduled shift on Election Day.


Even if you don’t have employees who are affected by the voting leave requirements, you should anticipate attendance issues on Election Day. Delays in voting are expected due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as sanitizing voting stations between voters, which will slow the voting process. Additionally, polling station staffing issues, such as those that Wisconsin experienced this summer due to polling worker concerns with COVID-19 exposure, may be a factor.


Knowing that delays, tardiness, and absences will be an issue on November 3, some employers may choose to relax their attendance policies, although this is not required. No matter your plan for Election Day, make sure that all managers and supervisors are aware of your company’s requirements and policies related to voting, and make sure everyone is handling voting-related attendance issues in a consistent fashion.


Nyemaster Goode’s Labor & Employment Department regularly assists our clients with issues involving employee attendance and leave requirements. Please do not hesitate to contact us about the applicability of this voting leave law to your business.