Seven benefits to giving employees paid time off to vote or volunteer on Election Day

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

By Michelle van Schouwen

Every hour counts when you are a small business owner, so it may not have occurred to you to give employees paid time off to vote or volunteer on Election Day. But let’s argue that you should – and here’s why.

1) Workers consistently say they want more “work/life integration” so that they can live fully while working full-time. Voting, or volunteering at the polls, should be part of this integration.

2) Many states in fact require that you give employees time off to vote, in some cases with pay. See details here. Offering more flexibility than your state’s law requires, or providing time off to volunteer on Election Day is up to you – and so becomes a thoughtful benefit.

3) The best employees are typically those who are fully engaged. The same people who are very immersed at work are often active and involved in other important pursuits as well – including their civic life. By offering them adequate paid time to participate on Election Day, you are encouraging your best employees to think well of your company.

4) Employees who don’t get the appropriate time off to vote may find it difficult to get to the polls at all – child-care or other personal responsibilities, or even commute times, may make it tough to vote on Election Day. And people who want to vote but don’t because they are stuck at work are likely to be perturbed, and to not feel valued.

5) Offering time off to vote doesn’t necessarily involve a whole day, but time off to work at the polls, or drive voters, or make another contribution to Election Day activity, may. You can be equitable in offering what individual employees need, since not all will want to volunteer.

6) You can demonstrate your fairness and empathy for employees’ varying views. It should be obvious that you must offer the same time-off benefit to the employee who supports candidates or positions with which you disagree as you do the employee who shares your political values. In fact, if you don’t know an employee’s political opinions, don’t ask.

7) Best of all, when you offer paid time off to vote or volunteer on Election Day, you walk the walk of showing that you support elections, voters, volunteers, and most of all, your staff. And that is worth all the pay will provide.


Michelle van Schouwen is principal of Q5 Analytics, providing advocacy and communications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. For 32 years, Michelle was president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company. In 2017, van Schouwen Associates was acquired by Six-Point Creative Works, Inc. of Springfield, MA. Michelle is available for speaking engagements on topics including her work on climate crisis mitigation and Florida coastal water issues. She speaks to business and student groups about marketing launches and entrepreneurship and works with start-ups to support their development.

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