Hundreds of companies, ranging from small businesses to big companies like Dropbox, are giving their employees paid time off to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
This might not sound like a bit deal, but there is no federal law requiring employers to give workers paid time off to vote. A number of state laws do require employers in those states to inform employees about their voting rights and offer up to two hours of paid leave to go cast their ballot. But it’s notable that over 300 companies have now signed up with ElectionDay.org, a project of Vote.org, to promote the importance of facilitating their employees’ ability to vote in each and every election, and ultimately make it the norm for Election Day to be a paid company holiday.
While it may not seem necessary for employers to offer time off to vote—paid or unpaid—the truth is in the numbers. Nearly four in 10 people eligible to vote in the 2016 election did do so, and historically, midterm elections have even lower voter turnout than presidential election years, according to the Pew Research Center.
And so, companies are making it a priority to help if employees want the time off, or simply need a quick, easy way to complete voter registration and make sure they know their polling place.
Ride-hailing giant Lyft is not only offering customers a deal—50% off on rides on Election Day—but it has also offered employees Election Day-related assistance in the form of in-office voter registration. (It’s worth noting, Lyft drivers are not employees. They are gig-economy contractors, which is why they will be working, bringing voters to the polls.)
Denim giant Levi Strauss and Co. has also pledged to encourage employees to vote, noting that time off to head to polling places isn’t about partisan politics but upholding the principles of democracy. “People have fought and died for the right to vote in America, and as business leaders, we have a role to play in helping our employees participate in the democratic process,” LS&Co. president and chief executive Chip Bergh said in a company statement.
Other companies offering employees time off to vote include Etsy, Okta, and Patagonia. To see if your company is doing the same, head over to ElectionDay.org’s participant list.
Election Day 2018 is Tuesday, November 6.
Clarification, October 31, 2018: An earlier headline has been adjusted to more clearly state that employees have paid time, but not a full workday, off to vote.