SimplyHR | Employment & Labor Blog 


Blog Editors



Paid Time Off to Vote: Illinois Employers’ Obligations to Employees on Election Day
By Scott Cruz on October 15, 2020 at 10:30 AM

On Election Day, November 3, 2020, voters will cast their ballots on who will be the next president of the United States, as well as other federal, state and local positions and referendums. Because of the increase in early and mail-in voting this year due to COVID-19, many voters likely will have voted prior to the polls officially opening in Illinois at 6 a.m. on Election Day. However, not everyone will have taken advantage of early voting opportunities, and some will still wish to vote on Election Day. Under Illinois’ voting law, (10 ILCS 5/17-15(a)), employers must provide certain employees whose work schedules may preclude them from voting, and who request leave to vote in advance of Election Day, with up to two hours of paid leave to go vote. Thus, with Election Day rapidly approaching, Illinois employers are strongly encouraged to review their workplace policies to confirm that they comply with Illinois’ paid leave voting law.

First, Illinois’ voting law instructs that only individuals who are “entitled to vote” in a general or special election, or at any election at which propositions are submitted to popular vote, are eligible to be absent from work for a period of up to two hours between the time the polls open and the time the polls close on Election Day. An employer may request that the employee provide proof of eligibility, such as a voter registration card.

Second, under Illinois’ voting law, even if the employee is legally “entitled to vote,” only those employees whose work hours begin less than two hours after the polls open in Illinois at 6 a.m. CST on Election Day, and end less than two hours before polls close in Illinois at 7 p.m. CST on Election Day, are eligible for the two-hour paid leave during working hours. So, an employee who is scheduled to work from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. would be eligible for the two-hour paid leave because his/her shift begins less than two hours after polls open and ends less than two hours before the polls close. Conversely, an employee scheduled to work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. is ineligible because his/her shift does not begin less than two hours after the polls open, despite it ending less than two hours before the polls close. 

Third, under Illinois’ voting law, for an employee to be eligible for the two-hour paid leave on Election Day, the employee must request the two-hour paid leave before Election Day. Thus, if the employee makes the request to his/her employer on Election Day, the employer may lawfully deny the request.

Fourth, under Illinois’ voting law, the two-hour paid leave is only during times when the polls are open (i.e. 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and employees are only entitled to up to two successive hours off to vote. Importantly, to minimize or reduce work conflicts, employers may specify the two hours during the employee’s workday that the employee may be absent to vote.

Lastly, under Illinois’ voting law, employers may not discipline and/or penalize their employees for time spent exercising their right to vote.

How should employers handle employees who do not meet the criteria above but missed some work because they voted?  Generally, and to the extent possible, employers should refrain from disciplining employees who are late to work because they faced long lines at the polls (as is expected this year) or other unexpected delays due to COVID-19 safety protocols at their voting places. However, employers should remind employees that if they anticipate being late to work, they must follow the company’s normal call-in procedures (e.g. notify their supervisors using approved methods), and that they will be required to use company provided paid time off for any time missed. Employers also could require proof of voting, particularly if the employee is running late as a result of long lines.

Read about Missouri employee voting laws here.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Email

This website uses cookies to improve functionality and performance. If you choose to continue browsing this website, you consent to the use of cookies. Read our Privacy Policy here for details.