According to the new Leave to Vote Amendment Act of 2020, employers in DC must offer employees eligible to vote and upon their request, two hours of paid leave during their workday for in person voting in any District election, effective June 24, 2020. If an employee is not eligible to vote in the District, then the paid leave may be for any election in the jurisdiction where the employee is eligible to vote. Therefore, DC employees who reside in MD or VA, as well as other jurisdictions, are also eligible for the paid benefit. The law is applicable to all employers which may:
- Require leave requests be made in advance, at a reasonable time; and
- Specify the hours when an employee may take the leave, including by requiring that the employee take the leave:
- During early voting instead of on election day; or
- At the beginning or end of their working hours.
Employers may not deduct from an employee’s salary, wages, or accrued leave for this paid voting leave. Additionally, it is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny any attempt to take paid voting leave. The employer may not retaliate against an employee for taking paid voting leave.
Employers are also required to conspicuously post and maintain a notice with an easily understood description of the paid voting leave law. Though not available currently, this notice will be developed by the District of Columbia Board of Elections. The law also provides a two-hour excused absence for students to vote in person.
DC employers should review their employee handbooks immediately and modify their voting leave policies incorporating the new leave law that is in effect. DC employers should post the notice once it is released. A voting plan should be developed to be ready in advance of the next election to be in compliance with this new leave.