Election day isn’t a US federal holiday, but more employers are acting like it is

Civic duty or double duty?
Civic duty or double duty?
Image: AP/Elaine Thompson
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Tuesday (Nov. 6) should be the busiest day of the year for Phone2Action, a Washington DC-based outfit that makes it easier for voters to contact their elected officials and easier for candidates and causes to organize supports. But a quarter of Phone2Action’s employees won’t be at work.

Every year, the company offers three “civic engagement days” to its employees. Election day in the US is both the busiest day of the year for the platform and the day the most Phone2Action employees take off.

“It’s a terrible day for us to take off, but we have to ask what this means for the culture of our company and the culture of our country,” says Phone2Action founder Ximena Hartsock.  ”Every company sends a signal tomorrow with what they’re doing [on election day].”

In the US, about 4 in 10 eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Though getting the time off work is not the only barrier to voting, it certainly helps to have the entire day to visit a polling place. In lieu of a federal holiday, some employers are taking voter turnout into their own hands.

According to Take Off Election Day, a site promoting companies that allow employees to do just that, employers including Spotify, Survey Monkey, and TaskRabbit are among those giving employees the day off to vote. Other companies, like the Washington DC-based restaurant chain Cava, will give its 1,600 employees two hours of paid time off to head to the polls.

A survey (pdf) from the Society for Human Resource Management found that a record 44% of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off tomorrow, up from 37% in 2016. With no federal holiday in place, a company holiday is perhaps a good place to start.