'Time to Vote': Growing number of businesses, retailers pledge to give employees time off on Election Day

Some are allowing employees to use paid time off to train as poll workers

More and more companies across the country are pledging to give their employees time off to vote as Election Day nears.

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Upward of 600 businesses and retailers, including like Walmart, Best Buy, Patagonia, Paypal, Uber, Lyft and others, have joined the “Time to Vote” movement, a nonpartisan campaign led by the business community vowing to give workers enough time off to vote.

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It's not just voting that the movement encourages, either. San Francisco-based denim company Levi Strauss & Co. this year is allowing its employees to use paid time off to train as poll workers, CEO Chip Bergh announced in a recent editorial. Similarly, Apple in July announced it would give hourly and retail employees up to four hours of paid time off during Election Day to volunteer at a polling facility or vote, joining other tech companies like Uber and Twitter, Bloomberg reported.

Federal law does not mandate that workers get time off to vote; however, most states allow time for employees to cast their ballots, particularly if their work hours fall during poll hours, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. (Walmart/iStock)

Big box retailers like Walmart, meanwhile, have also implemented three paid hours for store workers to use to vote, as long as they inform their manager. And some retailers are shuttering their stores entirely for Election Day on Tues. Nov. 3., including outdoor clothing and sporting retailer Patagonia, which will close its retail stores, distribution centers and offices on Election Day. The company has also urged others to follow suit.

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Federal law does not mandate that workers get time off to vote; however, most states allow time for employees to cast their ballots, particularly if their work hours fall during poll hours, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Laws vary, however, on whether their time off is paid or unpaid.

The U.S. trails behind other developed countries when it comes to voter turnout. Indeed, just 56% of Americans who were able to vote did so in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Pew Research Center.

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For a full list of retailers encouraging employees to vote visit MakeTimeToVote.org.