Can teachers take time off to vote in the general election?

With the upcoming general election on 4th July 2024, people up and down the country will be preparing to cast their votes to determine who will be the nation’s new leader. But how might schools be affected by the upcoming election? Our latest blog helps school leaders prepare so they can operate effectively while supporting staff in exercising their right to vote. 

Balancing school operations and staff participation in the election

Balancing the demands of school operations with the rights and needs of staff can be challenging. With the upcoming general election on 4th July 2024, it’s essential to ensure that school staff can participate in the democratic process while maintaining the smooth functioning of the school.

Here's our guide to help schools identify and manage the potential challenges of the upcoming election.

Understanding your legal requirements

While there are no specific legal requirements mandating employers to provide time off for voting, it’s best practice to support staff in exercising their democratic rights. HR professionals should ensure staff know that the school encourages them to vote and should do so, where possible, outside normal school hours.

Polling stations

If your school is being used as a polling station on July 4th, staff should work from home wherever possible. If they cannot attend work because the school is being used for voting, they should still receive their usual pay for the day.

Volunteering at polling stations

There is no statutory entitlement to time off for volunteering at polling stations. Employees wishing to volunteer should apply for leave in accordance with the school’s procedures, even if the school is closed for use as a polling station. Pay for this leave is discretionary.

Time off to vote

Polling stations are open from 7 am. to 10 pm., allowing ample time for individuals to vote outside of working hours. Typically, it should not be necessary for staff to request or be granted time off to vote. However, consideration should be given to any exceptional circumstances. Schools may want to consider offering flexibility around breaks and avoiding before/after-school meetings. Regular school activities, such as after-school programs or extracurricular events, may be disrupted or cancelled due to the election to maximise flexibility for staff.

Communication with parents and the wider community

Schools will need to ensure clear and timely communication with parents and the community regarding any changes in schedules, closures, or other election-related impacts, such as parking and traffic issues if your setting is close to a polling station. 

School HR support with a vote of confidence 

Election day can bring various challenges for schools, from closures and staffing adjustments to leave requests. If you need HR support for the upcoming election or any other HR challenges, you've come to the right place.

Our team of education HR experts celebrates a collective 200 years of HR experience. So, when we say we've seen it all and can assist with any HR scenario, simple or complex, we truly mean it.

We provide non-judgmental, practical advice for schools, academies and trusts and truly bring the human touch to education HR.

Reach out to us today - help and support are just a few clicks away.