Leave Policies in the Workplace FAQ

Do I have to give my employees time off for voting, jury duty, or military service?

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Questions:

Answer:

Do I have to give my employees time off for voting, jury duty, or military service?

The answer will differ depending on the state where you do business. Here are the basics.

Voting. Almost half of the states require employers to provide a few hours of paid leave to allow their employees to vote. Generally, paid leave is required only if the employee would have insufficient time to vote without taking time off.

Even if you live in a state that does not require paid leave for voting, you must not punish any employee for taking time off to cast a ballot. Almost every state prohibits employers from firing or disciplining an employee for taking leave to vote.

For more information on voting leave, see Nolo's article Giving Employees Time Off for Voting and Jury Duty.

Jury duty. Most states do not require you to pay your employees for the time they spend on jury duty, unless your own employment policies provide for such pay.

But almost every state prohibits employers from firing or disciplining an employee for being called to jury duty. In some states, an employee fired in violation of these laws can sue you for lost wages. In addition, a handful of states impose criminal penalties against employers who break this law.

For more information on providing leave while an employee serves on a jury, see Nolo's article Giving Employees Time Off for Voting and Jury Duty.

Military duty. Federal law requires employers to allow employees to take up to five years of leave for military service. And, in almost every state, employers must allow their employees to take leave for certain types of military duties, such as service in the state Guard or Militia. You are not required to pay your employees for this time off.

For more information, see Nolo's article Providing Military Leave.

To Learn More 

For a complete guide to your legal rights and responsibilities as an employer, get The Employer's Legal Handbook: Manage Your Employees & Workplace Effectively, by Fred Steingold (Nolo).

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