A rising number of US companies are assuring a day off or time off for the Presidential Elections, 2020, which is scheduled to be held this November 3rd. This effort has gained momentum following the “Time to Vote” movement, a nonpartisan campaign led by the business community who has vowed to give workers adequate time off to vote. As of now, more than 600 companies have joined this list of pledging companies that include Walmart, Best Buy, Gap Inc., JPMorgan Chase, PayPal, Nike, Twitter and many others.
The idea is reportedly gaining steam in spite of the US federal government’s unwillingness to declare Election Day a federal holiday. Through this effort the company leaders pledge to support workers to vote, as well as give employees paid time off on that day, providing access to early voting and/or information about vote-by-mail options or constituting Election Day to be one without meetings.
Day Off To Vote
According to a study by Pew Research Center, the US has some of the lowest rates of voter participation among developed countries. It reported that roughly around 56% of the US voting-age population voted in the 2016 elections, which is a 20-year low turnout. Although there may be a number of reasons for non-participation of citizens in the voting process, this time around the pledging companies are taking a gracious initiative to ensure that work demands and schedules are not among those reasons.
A number of companies have come forward and made public commitments about their specific customized plans to empower their employees to vote.
Outdoor equipment retailer, Patagonia has announced that it will shut down its headquarters, offices, stores and distribution centers for Election Day, as it had previously done in 2016 and 2018. It is further encouraging other companies to do the same as part of the ‘Time to Vote’ campaign.
Starbucks is encouraging its 200,000 employees in the US with flexible working hours on Election Day, to plan ahead their schedule time with managers to vote or volunteer at polling places. The company also mentioned that its Starbucks app will help customers learn how to register to vote.
The spokesperson for Levi Strauss & Co. says that similar to its offer of paid time off to all employees for Election Day in 2018, it will offer paid time off to both corporate and retail employees for this coming Presidential elections as well. Coca-Cola, Twitter, Cisco and Uber are giving their employees the day off. Apple is providing up to four hours off with pay to its retail and hourly employees, according to a Bloomberg report in July.
- Crew also made announcements of supporting the ‘Time to Vote’ movement by closing all J. Crew and Madewell offices, stores, and distribution and customer service centers for the entire day of elections. Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, says it will give all its working associates including its 1.5 million US workers up to three hours paid time off to vote. They can take this time during the day if their scheduled shift doesn’t otherwise allow them to leave while polls are open. According to a company spokesperson, workers are notified of their eligibility via the company’s intranet and they have to provide their supervisor one day’s notice about their need to leave.
According to CEO Jeff Dailey of Farmers Insurance, employees will be given up to two hours of paid time to vote, emphasizing on empowering the farmers to make a difference in their communities across the country. Other companies such as Lyft, Airbnb and Paramount, have also signed on to ElectionDay.org group, which asks companies to give employees time off to vote or distribute information on voting, including how to obtain main-in ballots.
Best Buy pledged to shorten its operating hours on Election Day for all its stores, corporate offices, field offices and in-home installation services as well as make arrangements for distribution center and customer service employees. Nike’s policies for the Election Day depends on a particular state’s voting laws that includes paid time off, a meeting-free day or information regarding mail-in ballots. Salad chain, Sweetgreen will give its hourly workers up to three hours of paid time off to vote on the Election Day. It is also educating its employees about the voting process and has created a custom registration site.
The US Federal law does not mandate that workers get time off to vote. However, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, about half of US states allow time for employees to cast their ballots, mainly if their work hours overlap with their poll hours. Whether that time off is paid or unpaid, though varies with different state laws.
Harvard University, Wayfair, Bank of America and the Boston Red Sox are other companies that have signed up for providing their employees with time off to vote.