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Why More Organizations Are Giving Employees Time Off to Vote

Will your organization offer U.S.-based employees time off so that they can cast a ballot at their local polling place on Election Day (November 3, 2020)?

How about paid time off for voting? Or offering employees paid time off to be poll workers?

i4cp members Ecolab, Abbott, Danone North America, and others are among over 1,000 employers (and counting) that have publicly pledged to promote voter turnout by giving employees the time and tools they need to exercise their right to vote in next month’s general election.

The time off to vote pledge (of which i4cp is a proud participant) is being promoted by Time To Vote, a non-profit organization that describes itself as “a nonpartisan effort for companies that want to contribute to the culture shift needed to increase voter participation in our country's elections. We're led by CEOs who are interested in increasing voter participation.”

The push to form this coalition of employers is fueled in part by the fact that the U.S. has the lowest voter participation rate in the developed world—in the 2016 presidential election, 43% of eligible voters did not participate.

Among the most common reasons people cite for not voting is that they are just far too overwhelmed by the demands of work, family, and life. The surreal circumstances of 2020 only compound these challenges and add to the very real concern that eligible votes who don’t vote by mail will not make it to the polls.

While a recent i4cp pulse survey on politics in the workplace found that 26% of the 300 professionals polled reported that their CEOs are encouraging employees to vote, few (around 11%) are providing paid time off to their workforces to do so.

CEO Action

Policies on time off for voting obviously vary. For example, at the Estee Lauder Companies, both full and part-time employees will have a half-day of paid time off in order to take part in voting, whether this is to vote, volunteer as a polling worker, or engage in other election-related activity on November 3rd.

The same is true at Verizon—the telecoms company offers up to four hours of paid time off for its U.S.-based workforce on Election Day—important especially because COVID-19 precautions and restrictions will present new challenges to voting this year, CHRO Christy Pambianchi recently told HRE.

“Giving our team members the day off to vote has never been more important or meaningful,” says i4cp’s CEO Kevin Oakes, who declared Election Day 2020 a companywide paid holiday to ensure that employees have time to participate fully in the Democratic process.

While many states in the U.S. require by law that employers give workers time off to vote (paid or unpaid depending on the state), some organizations are doing so regardless and going a step further to explicitly tie their time off to vote polices to their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

An example of this is Cisco, which recently published its strategy, Cisco Social Justice Beliefs and Actions, which pledges to take action to advance social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion globally to include providing employees with up to one business day of paid time off to vote in major country elections across the world.

Old Navy is encouraging its 50,000 retail employees to get involved in the democratic process—literally. The retailer will pay store employees who serve in their communities as poll workers this year through its partnership with the Civic Alliance and Power the Polls. The company said employees will also be eligible for additional compensation from their local jurisdictions for helping to close the staffing gaps at polling places.

Among i4cp’s member community, the following organizations have signed the Time to Vote pledge so far:

  • Abbott
  • Booze Allen Hamilton
  • Danone North America
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Discover Financial Services
  • Domino’s
  • Ecolab
  • Equitable
  • Experian
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Patagonia
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • Twitter
  • USAA
  • VF Corporation
  • Visa
  • Walmart
  • Wells Fargo
  • Zillow Group 

References and Resources 

Lorrie Lykins
Lorrie is i4cp's Vice President of Research. A thought leader, speaker, and researcher on the topic of gender equity, Lorrie has decades of experience in human capital research. Lorrie’s work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other renowned publications.