Peninsula – How employers can facilitate voter requests

May 23, 2019

In their blog post, Peninsula, the professional services organisation for small businesses, provides an overview of how employers can facilitate employee requests to cast their vote in tomorrow’s elections.

Handling employees on EU polling day

This Friday’s European Parliament elections come at a time of great uncertainty across many EU member states. With the EU dominating headlines since the UK’s Brexit vote, it is likely that employees will be more conscious of the significance of their vote in this week’s elections.

As an employer, you may be required to deal with more voting-related queries than usual this week.  

Facilitating employee voting requests

Although employees do not enjoy a statutory right to time off work to cast their vote, employers are in a position to facilitate employees that would like to cast a vote. With many employees registered to vote in their hometowns rather than where they work, it is often their employer’s work practices that determine whether or not they make it home in time before the ballot boxes close.

Flexible hours

The easiest way to facilitate employees is to show some flexibility around working hours. Altering start and finish times on polling day for instance should allow an employee to cast their vote and complete a full day’s work.

Agree the arrangements in advance

From a HR perspective, it is good practice to confirm all such arrangements in advance. If the employee is required to make up any lost time either before or after polling day, this should be mutually agreed in advance.

Put it down in writing

You should provide written confirmation specifying that the time should be made up within a certain time frame or that the employee should arrange to make up the time themselves provided they seek approval in advance. Whatever arrangements you agree with employees; it is good practice to record what has been agreed in writing. For the sake of clarity, it should be noted in the written agreement that failure to make up any time may lead to pay being reduced by the amount of time missed.

Be consistent

Ireland’s electorate is growing accustomed to momentous votes with two major referendum results in the last four years. Employers who facilitated employee participation in the two recent referenda could consider extending the same approach to the EU elections.

For employers that do provide flexibility to allow employees to vote, it is important that flexible work practices operate consistently. An inconsistent approach may lead to subsequent complaints or allegations of less favourable treatment.

If you have any questions in relation to flexible work practices, please contact Peninsula’s expert employment law advisors on 1890 252 923 or if you would like one of their advisors to call you back fill in your details here.

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