Do I get time off to vote? Is it paid?

With the election a little more than a month away, it's a good time to review Massachusetts law regarding taking time off from work to vote.

M.G.L. c. 149, s. 178 provides the following:

No owner, superintendent or overseer in any manufacturing, mechanical or mercantile establishment shall employ or permit to be employed therein any person entitled to vote at an election, during the period of two hours after the opening of the polls in the voting precinct, ward or town in which such person is entitled to vote, if he shall make application for leave of absence during such period.

Well, what does that mean?

Let's take it step by step.

Who does the law apply to?

First, the law applies only to employers that are manufacturing, mechanical or "mercantile establishment[s]." A mercantile establishment is that which is used for the purposes of trade or the sale of goods or merchandise, including restaurants. It also includes premises used in connection with "wearing apparel" or laundering fabrics. See M.G.L. c. 149, s. 1.

Second, the worker must specifically request a leave of absence to vote.

What must the employer allow?

If an employer in one of the above industries receives a request for a leave of absence to vote, the employer must grant it -- for a period of up to two hours after the polls open in the worker's precinct, ward or town.

Must the voting leave be paid?

Not necessarily. The law does not require it. The employer can choose to pay, however.

Now that you are educated about voting leave, make sure to exercise your right to vote! If you have questions about voting leave, contact me.

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