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Commentary | April 20, 2022

Civilian administrative leave authorized for voting

By Coast Guard Office of Civilian Human Resources

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently issued guidance implementing Executive Order (EO) 14019, Promoting Access to Voting.  One of the goals of the Executive Order is to ensure that the Federal Government, as the Nation's largest employer, serves as a model employer by encouraging and facilitating Federal employees' civic participation.  Implementing guidance from OPM provides strategies to:

  • Expand the Federal Government’s policy of granting employees time off to vote in Federal, State, local (i.e., county and municipal), Tribal, and territorial elections (including strategies on how to ensure Federal employees have opportunities to participate in early voting), and
  • Better support Federal employees who wish to volunteer to serve as non-partisan poll workers or non-partisan observers, particularly during early or extended voting periods.

This new policy is intended to encourage agencies to remove barriers to voting so all Federal employees, regardless of personal circumstance or party affiliation, may exercise this fundamental right.

Effective immediately, employees can request administrative leave for the purpose of voting or serving as a non-partisan poll worker or non-partisan observer, subject to certain conditions and limitations described below.  Employees must obtain the approval of their supervisors before using the authorized administrative leave, so that the use of this leave does not significantly disrupt command or unit operations.

Administrative Leave for Voting Related Activities

  • With supervisory approval, employees may request up to 4 hours of administrative leave for voting in connection with each Federal general election day.  The administrative leave may be used for voting on the Federal general election day or for early voting (i.e., voting prior to Federal general election day, as authorized by their jurisdiction).  Employees who would like to use this leave must submit an Admin Leave request in webTA.
  • Employees may use up to 4 hours of administrative leave for voting in connection with each election event (including primaries and caucuses) at the Federal, State, local (i.e., county and municipal), Tribal, and territorial level that does not coincide with a Federal general election day.  (If an election simultaneously involves more than one level, it is considered to be a single election event.)  This administrative leave may be used for voting on the established election day or for early voting, whichever option is used by the employee with respect to an election event.
  • For Federal special Congressional elections not held on the date of a Federal general election, employees may use up to 4 hours of administrative leave for voting, with supervisory approval.  This administrative leave may be granted for voting on the established date of a special election or for authorized early voting in connection with that election.
  • With supervisory approval, employees may use up to 4 hours of administrative leave per leave year to serve as a non-partisan poll worker or to participate in non-partisan observer activities at the Federal, State, local (i.e., county and municipal), Tribal, and territorial level.  (A “leave year” begins on the first day of the first pay period commencing on or after January 1 of the given year and ends on the day before the first day of the next leave year.)  This leave is in addition to any administrative leave an employee uses to vote.

Additional Considerations

  • Scheduling of administrative leave for the above-described purposes is subject to a supervisory determination the employee can be relieved of duty during the specific period of time requested without significantly impairing mission-essential operations.
  • If an employee needs to spend less than 4 hours to vote, only the needed amount of administrative leave should be granted.
  • Supervisors should strive to accommodate employee leave requests by making necessary operational adjustments.
  • Administrative leave may not be used during a nonworkday or during overtime work hours outside the tour of duty established for leave charging purposes.
  • Administrative leave for voting (up to 4 hours) includes travel time to and from the employee’s voting poll location.
  • An employee may use administrative leave for voting in connection with each covered election event in which the employee participates by voting. However, an employee is limited to 4 hours of administrative leave for voting per election event.
  • An employee may use up to 4 hours of administrative leave per leave year for the purpose of serving as a non-partisan poll worker or non-partisan observer, including training periods.  If those duties require the employee to be absent for a longer period of time, the employee must use annual leave (accrued or advanced), earned compensatory time off, or credit hours earned under a flexible work schedule.  An employee may also request leave without pay according to Coast Guard policy and any applicable collective bargaining agreement.  Employees interested in serving as poll workers or observers are reminded to check with their servicing Coast Guard legal office (SLO) for guidance on approval requirements.

For more information regarding guidelines and eligibility, contact your servicing field or center Human Resources Specialist.