Employment Law Report

Voting During the Workday

By: Marianna J. Michael

As the Nation turns its attention to midterm elections, employers and employees alike are questioning whether employees are permitted to miss work in order to exercise their right to vote. The law in Kentucky has not changed since we first reported on it back in 2020. KRS § 118.035 requires employers to allow their employees “a reasonable time, but not less than four (4) hours” to cast his/her vote on election day. The statute does require an employee seeking leave to vote to provide his/her employer with advance notice of at least one (1) day. For non-state employees, the time off shall constitute unpaid leave, while state employees are compensated on “an hour-for-hour basis” while the “polls are open.” See 101 KAR 2:102(7). It is important to note that the statute permits employers to specify the hours during which employees may leave work to vote. Moreover, proof of voting may be required, because any employee who exercises his/her right to vote under this statute but deliberately fails to cast a vote “may be subject to disciplinary action.” Finally, and most importantly, an employer is prohibited from denying an employee these voting privileges, and prohibited from discharging or threatening to discharge an employee or subjecting him/her to a penalty due to the exercise of these privileges.