FEMA encourages all employees to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens to vote Tuesday, Nov. 6. Although most employees have sufficient time to cast their ballots before or after their regular work hours, in some cases additional time may be needed.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has provided the following guidance to federal agencies regarding the federal government's longstanding policy of granting employees limited time off from work (i.e., excused absence) to vote in federal, state, county, or municipal elections. CHOCO.gov
Generally, where the polls are not open at least three hours either before or after an employee’s regular work hours, employees may be granted a limited amount of excused absence that will permit them to report for work three hours after the polls open or leave from work three hours before the polls close, whichever requires the lesser amount of time off. An employee’s “regular work hours” should be determined by reference to the time of day the employee normally arrives at and departs from work.
For example, if an employee is scheduled to work from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the employee’s polling place is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the employee should not be granted excused absence for voting, since the employee would still have at least three hours after the end of his or her work schedule to vote. However, if an employee is scheduled to work from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the employee’s polling place is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the employee may be granted half hour of excused absence from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., if requested.
If an employee’s voting place is beyond normal commuting distance and voting by absentee ballot is not permitted, employees may be granted excused absence (not to exceed one day) to allow the employee to make the trip to the voting place to cast a ballot. If more than 1 day is needed, the employee may request annual leave or leave without pay for the additional period of absence.
Since a number of jurisdictions now offer a period prior to the day of the election during which voters may cast ballots early, employees on alternative work schedules, may find it convenient to vote during these early voting periods. Employees may be granted excused absence for early voting only when (1) the employee will be unable to vote on the day of the election because of activities directly related to the Agency’s mission (such as travel) and cannot vote by absentee ballot, or (2) early voting hours are the same as, or exceed, voting hours on the day of the election.
If an employee chooses to vote earlier, but the hours in which polling places are open are shorter than on Election Day, the employee is not eligible for excused absence because the employee has opted to vote at that time. In addition, excused absences will not be granted if an employee’s non-workday or his or her compressed or other alternative work schedule falls on a day that his or her polling place is open for voting.