With the upcoming election, employers may be faced with requests for time off to vote. Whether to allow such time off is entirely within the employer’s discretion; Maine law does not require an employer to provide an employee with paid or unpaid time off for the purpose of voting. An employer may also enforce rules about the wearing of campaign/political material on its premises during work time, with some possible exceptions. In both areas, though, employers must apply the rules evenly and consistently. [But note that after Maine’s Earned Leave Law goes into effect at the beginning of January, paid leave may in fact be available for this purpose].
It is worth mentioning that Maine does have a law that entitles an employee to a leave of absence to serve as a Legislator, as long as the employee gives the employer notice of that intent within 10 days after placing their name on a primary or general election ballot. The employee is entitled to restoration to their previous or a similar position with the same pay, status and seniority at the conclusion of the term of service, provided the employee is still qualified to perform those duties. The leave of absence can be with or without pay and is limited to one legislative term of 2 years. This entitlement does not apply to employers with 5 or fewer employees. There is also a process in the law that allows an employer to appeal for relief from the requirement if the employer can demonstrate the leave of absence would cause an unreasonable hardship on the business.