A report from the Society for Human Resource Management shows that paid time off to vote is an increasingly popular job perk for many employers, showcasing another way companies are attempting to be more socially and civically conscious.
With the midterm election top of mind for much of the United States tomorrow, you might be asking yourself, “Why do we vote on Tuesdays, anyway?”
The answer, like many things, is essentially, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.”
Election Day rules were settled on by lawmakers way back in 1845, when much of the country’s population resided in rural areas. According to a 2006 Seattle Times story, Tuesday was selected to accommodate a day’s travel to the polls, while allowing time to return to town on Wednesdays, which were typically “market days” in many towns.
Clearly, those aren’t issues plaguing most voters these days, and it has left many frustrated that our elections remain on working days for most of the country.
However, it appears that many employers are stepping up to offer a remedy.
In their annual Employee Benefits report, SHRM found that 44% of employers surveyed offered (or planned to offer in the next 12 months) paid time off to vote to their employees. This is a modest increase from the previous year, in which 42% reported this benefit to their employees.
“Giving employees sufficient time to vote should be part of any company’s corporate social responsibility,” says SVP of People & Culture at Convene Siobhan O’Leary. “Plain and simple, it’s just the right thing to do. You can’t be a successful company or employer these days without fulfilling a certain level of civic responsibility.”
“So often, companies expend tremendous resources to survey their own employees and gather data on their wants and needs to improve their own work environments—shouldn’t we apply that same level of effort to getting employees to vote?”
Meanwhile, unpaid time off to vote decreased, from 33% to 29%. However, this only applied to time beyond what is required by law. No federal law exists that mandates time off to vote, but most states require that employers make reasonable accommodations for workers to get to the polls.