Federal employees should be granted excused absences to vote on Election Day if polls are not open at least three hours before or after an employee’s regular work shift, the Office of Personnel Management has said in a new memo.
The government has a longstanding policy of granting employees limited time off to vote in federal, state, county, or municipal elections, OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert said in an Oct. 17 memorandum to agency heads.
Generally, the government’s policy is to allow employees to report to work three hours after polls open or leave from work three hours before polls close if an employee’s regular work schedule conflicts with the voting times.
AFGE strongly supports granting excused absences for the purpose of voting in the election and actually believes the government’s policy should go even further, National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
“We believe that Election Day should be a federal holiday for everyone, because after all, nobody should ever have to choose between voting and earning a living,” said Cox.
AFGE recommends that public employees who are represented by a union check their collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). In many of the contracts, AFGE fought to include language that ensures agencies accommodate workers who need additional time to vote on Election Day.