Get out and vote, small business owners tell employees

Get out and vote, small business owners tell employees

NEW YORK (AP) — Reports of long lines for early voting persuaded Darlene Hollywood — she’s giving her 13 employees at Hollywood Public Relations the morning of Election Day off.

“I don’t want people to feel they have to make a choice of, ‘I need to get to the office’ or ‘I can participate in my civic duty,’” says Hollywood, whose firm is based in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Small business owners who want to make it easy for their staffers to vote are giving them flex time, balloting breaks, or, like Hollywood, opening late. Some, joining a list of companies of all sizes that includes giants like General Motors and Ford, will be closed for the whole day. Owners say they want to encourage everyone to vote — some saying the intense emotions in the presidential race this year make it particularly significant and others that they feel it’s important to be involved in what happens in their country, state and city.

Many states have laws requiring employers to give workers time off to vote, and some of those states require that employees be paid if they have to vote during working hours. There is no federal law granting workers the right to voting time off. But many owners aren’t motivated strictly by the law.