Election day and criminal background checks

Hello everyone!

I have two questions....

1. Do we have to allow employees to take off during their normal 8-5 day to vote? Or since the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., they can go before or after work??

2. Criminal investigations..is there anyway to run one legally on an employee that has been with us for awhile? We have a situation that needs investigating and I was asked to run a criminal background check on an employee. My first response was we cannot without the employee's permission, but is this right?

Have a great day!


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 2-1-106 states that an eligible voter may
    be absent from his place of work on election day "for a reasonable period of
    time" in order to vote while the polls are open. The statute specifically
    states that the "reasonable period of time" cannot exceed three hours. In
    addition, an employee who is absent from work to vote in compliance with this
    statute cannot be penalized for being absent, and his pay cannot be reduced.
    However, an employee's rights under this statute are not absolute. If an
    employee's work schedule ends three hours or more after the polls open or his
    work schedule ends three hours or more before the polls close, the employee is
    not entitled to take time off to vote under this statute. In addition, the
    statute gives an employer the discretion to specify the hours during which an
    employee may be absent to vote. Finally, this statute requires that the
    employee must apply for this absence to vote by 12:00 noon on the day before the

    2. I believe that you do have to give the employee notice, although I haven't
    specifically looked at this question recently.

  • Question #1 - No, you do not have to give employees time off if they have time to vote before/after work.
    Question #2 - Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you have to get written consent to do a background check and usually only to consider an application submitted to a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business. We have all employees sign a consent upon being hired and conduct a criminal background on all new hires. You may want to check with legal counsel on this one.

  • State laws vary on whether you must allow employees time off to vote. For other states outside TN, check
    [url]http://www.hrhero.com/vote.shtml[/url] . This page also lists coercion statutes (laws that forbid you from coercing your employees into voting for a certain candidate).

    The text of the laws is available only to HRhero.com Law Center members, but even if you aren't a member, you can at least tell if your state has a law or not.

  • Regarding criminal checks: The Fair Credit Reporting Act has specific guidelines regarding this, including the requirement for specific authorization from the employee to conduct checks. The consumer reporting agency that you would engage to do the background check should have all of the relevant information and forms that you need.

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