Review Employee Voting Rights As Elections Near

As we near the end of October, federal, state, and local elections are right around the corner. It is a good time for employers to review relevant policies and legal obligations towards employees who seek time off to vote or otherwise participate in the election process.

Under Wisconsin law, an employee who is entitled to vote in a public election must be given up to three (3) consecutive hours off work while the polls are open. An employee who plans to take time off to vote must notify their employer before election day, and the employer may designate the time of day for the absence (for example, at the start or end of a shift or work day). An employer need not pay an employee for time off to vote, but it may not penalize the employee in any way for taking that time off. Wis. Stat. §6.76.

An employee who wishes to participate in the election process as a registered poll worker has no similar right to time off work under Wisconsin law. However, employers may permit employees to take available paid or unpaid time off, such as vacation, paid time off, or community service time, for that purpose. Employers should take steps to ensure consistent treatment of all employees who request time off for election-related reasons.

In addition, employers should review any applicable collective bargaining agreements, handbooks, and internal policies that may provide greater rights than those set forth in Wisconsin’s voting rights statute.

Finally, employers should keep in mind that other states may impose different or additional requirements with regards to employee voting. A number of states, such as Illinois, require employers to provide paid time off for employees to vote. Other states have more stringent notice provisions. For example, New York requires employers to post a notice within 10 days of each election informing employees of their rights regarding voting time.

If you have questions about election-related issues as they impact your workforce inside or outside of Wisconsin, the team at Lake Effect HR & Law is happy to assist. Lake Effect continues to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates from federal, state, and local authorities. Please keep watching for blogs and emails from us for important legal updates and HR best practices. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

IRS Guidance on Leave Donation Programs

As communities continue to face challenges related to COVID-19, employers may consider implementing a Paid Time Off (PTO) donation program that allows employees to help charitable organizations provide relief to those impacted by the pandemic.

The IRS recently released Notice 2020-46, which provides guidelines on employer-sponsored charitable leave-based donation programs. Through December 31, 2020, this program allows employees to give back to their employer accrued but unused PTO (such as vacation time, sick time, personal leave time) in exchange for the employer donating an amount equivalent to the donated PTO to charitable organizations that qualify under Section 170(c) and are providing relief to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that this applies only through the end of this tax year. For example, if an employee making $10.00 per hour donates 40 hours of PTO, the employer converts those donated hours into $400 cash. The employer then donates $400 to an eligible charitable organization, and 40 hours is subtracted from the employee’s PTO balance. Employers can choose which charitable organization(s) will receive an employee’s donated PTO funds.

Employers who wish to create this type of PTO donation program will need to determine the following:

  • Who is eligible to participate in the program?
  • What types of leave may be donated?
  • What increments of time may be donated (hours, days, weeks)?
  • How will employees indicate how much time they want to donate?

A PTO donation program may have tax implications for both employers and employees. We encourage organizations considering such programs to work closely with their tax advisors to ensure proper implementation and reporting under applicable federal and state tax laws.

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC
(844) 333-5253 (LAKE)
info@le-hrlaw.com

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