Does My Employer Have to Give Me Paid Time Off to Vote?

iStock/adamkaz
iStock/adamkaz

The midterm elections are just one day away, but for many working Americans, finding time to hit the polls this Tuesday will be a challenge. As Business Insider points out, some companies are required by law to grant their employees time off to vote, but it depends on which state you live in.

There’s no federal law mandating time off for voters, and Election Day isn't a federal holiday like it is in some countries, including France and Mexico. However, most states have voter-leave laws—otherwise known as time-off-to-vote laws. Paid time off is mandated in 22 states, and unpaid time off is required in seven others. The outlier is Mississippi, which grants employees time off to vote but does not specify whether or not they will be compensated.

Of the states that offer paid time off, most allow employees to leave for two or three hours, which should cover any long lines voters may encounter. Some states stipulate that employees are allowed to leave for “as long as it reasonably takes to vote.” Three of the five most populous states—California, Texas, and New York—offer paid time off. Florida and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, do not offer any time off at all.

The states that offer paid time off include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The states that offer unpaid time off are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.

Of the 20 states that aren’t required to provide any time off, 11 are concentrated along the East Coast. Oregon and Washington technically don’t offer any time off, but they’re vote-by-mail states, so employees shouldn’t need to leave work anyway.

Even if you live in a state that doesn’t have a voter-leave law, you should still check with your employer to see if they will provide time off as a courtesy. According to Mic, nearly 250 companies have declared a company-wide holiday on Election Day or promised their employees paid time off to vote. These include Lyft, Etsy, Pinterest, Dropbox, Levi Strauss & Co., and Change.org, to name a few.

For more detailed information on how long you’re allowed to leave the office for and what you need to know before doing so, check out Business Insider’s article and map (click to enlarge).

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Poike/iStock via Getty Images Plus
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Why Did Noon Used to Mean 3 p.m.?

3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
Mckyartstudio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a late sleeper, you might find yourself thinking 12 p.m. seems way too early to be considered midday, and the word noon would much better describe, say, 3 p.m. It turns out that ancient Romans would have agreed with you, if only for etymological reasons.

As Reader’s Digest explains, the days in ancient Rome were split into four periods of three hours each. The first hour was at sunrise around 6 a.m.—called prime, for first—followed by 9 a.m. (terce, denoting the third hour), 12 p.m. (sext, for sixth), and 3 p.m. (none, for ninth).

According to Merriam-Webster, Middle and Old English borrowed the time-keeping tradition, along with the Latin word for ninth, which was changed to nōn and eventually noon. Though we’re not sure exactly when or why noon started referring to 12 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., it could have something to do with Christian prayer traditions. In the Bible, Jesus’s crucifixion is said to have taken place at the ninth hour, and that’s when worshippers partook in their second of three daily prayers; the others were in the morning and evening. It’s possible that hungry monks were behind noon’s gradual shift from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m.—since their daily fast didn’t end until after the midday prayer, they had a built-in motive for moving it earlier.

While we didn’t exactly stay true to the original Latin meaning of noon, there’s another important remnant of ancient Rome hiding in the way we tell time today. Romans referred to 12 p.m. as meridiem, for midday, and so do we. A.M. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem, or before midday, and P.M. means post meridiem, or after midday.

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