In early May of 2004, the Ohio Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 262. This bill amended Ohio Revised Code Section 3501.28 to create leave for various government employees who serve as a judge of elections on election day (poll worker leave). The specific amendments, which became effective on May 7, 2004, are found in RC 3501.28(G). The amendments do not supersede or negate any provision of a collective bargaining agreement in effect pursuant to Chapter 4117 of the Ohio Revised Code.
The head of the state agency has the discretion to determine whether poll worker leave will apply to its agency employees. Only after the head of the state agency determines that its employees will be eligible for leave, will this policy provide general parameters under which poll worker leave will be administered in the agency.
Responsibility of the Head of the State Agency
Employee use of poll worker leave is subject to terms and conditions established by the head of the state agency for which the employee works. [RC 3501.28(G)(1)(c)]. Pursuant to statute, these terms and conditions must include a standard procedure for deciding which employees are permitted to receive poll worker leave if multiple employees request to use the leave. This procedure is required to be uniformly applied to all similarly situated employees [RC 3501.28(G)(2)]. Additionally, any terms and conditions should also address the procedure by which an approval may be revoked should operational needs require, the order of consideration for this type of leave as compared to the other types of leaves available to employees, and any other items needed to address agency-specific issues. Attached is a sample work rule for poll workers’ leave.
Permanent full-time and permanent part-time employees who are officially appointed by the board of elections to serve as a judge of elections are eligible to receive poll worker leave. No other appointment types are eligible for poll worker leave under this policy. An employee who is on any type of paid or unpaid leave of absence is not eligible for Poll Worker Leave.
Leave and Benefit Amount
In accordance with RC 3501.28(G)(1)(c), employees may receive paid leave for time serving as a judge of elections. Employees will only receive paid leave on an hour-for-hour basis, up to the maximum number of hours the employee was regularly scheduled to work on the day of the election. For example, an employee must work 8 hours as a judge of elections in order to receive 8 hours of poll worker leave. If an employee serves as a judge for 5 hours, then the employee will only receive 5 hours of poll worker leave. Also, if an employee is regularly scheduled to work 8 hours and works longer than 8 hours at the polls on elections day, the employee is only entitled to 8 hours of poll worker leave. Any discrepancy in the amount of time an employee is regularly scheduled to work and the amount of time the employee serves as a judge will be considered time during which the employee was absent without leave (AWOL). An employee in AWOL status may be subject to discipline, up to and including removal. Discrepancies will be determined from the verification documentation submitted by the employee (see below).
Employees are eligible to receive poll worker leave when serving as a judge in a general, primary, or special election as defined in RC 3501.01.
Compensation for poll worker leave will be at the employee’s regular rate of pay. As used in this policy, the term “regular rate of pay” means the employee’s base rate of pay plus any applicable pay supplements. Unless otherwise specified, employees using poll worker leave remain in active pay status like any other form of paid leave and continue accruing vacation, personal, and sick time at the normal rate.
Request for Leave
This policy does not alter agency-specific policy and procedure for requesting time off. Employees required to use the standard Request for Leave form (ADM 4258) should mark the box for “Other” and document on the form that the request is for “Poll Worker Leave.”
In addition to the request for leave, the employee must submit a copy of the certificate of appointment issued by the board of elections pursuant to RC 3501.22(A), commitment card, or other similar form of confirmation from the board of elections that the employee will be serving as a judge of elections on the particular election day for which the employee is requesting leave. No request for leave will be granted unless the employee submits a confirmation.
In each instance that an employee utilizes poll worker leave, the employee must verify that the amount of leave requested was spent serving as a judge of elections. On the workday following the election on which the employee returns to work, the employee shall submit to the appropriate agency-designated personnel a properly completed and signed Poll Worker Leave Verification Form. Additionally, within 5 working days of receiving payment from the local board of elections, the employee shall submit proof of such payment to the appropriate agency-designated personnel. Verification will not be considered timely if submitted more than 6 months beyond the date the employee utilized Poll Worker Leave. Failure of the employee to timely submit the verification discussed above will cause the employee to be considered absent without leave (AWOL) for that day and may subject the employee to discipline, up to and including removal. Should there be a question regarding whether or not an employee actually worked as a poll judge for a particular election, the agency should verify the date and number of hours worked by the employee with the appropriate county board of elections.
Employees Whose State Agency Does Not Adopt Poll Worker Leave
An employee of an agency that does not have poll worker leave may request to use personal leave, vacation leave, or compensatory time to serve as a judge of elections [RC 3501.28(G)(6)]. Normal agency policy and procedure for granting time off will apply in these circumstances.
Recovery of Improperly Paid Benefits
The director of Administrative Services shall initiate all necessary steps to recover poll worker leave benefits paid in error or paid as the result of fraud. The director may make any needed adjustments to ensure the proper payment of benefits. An employee who knowingly engages in fraud may be subject to discipline, up to and including removal. When necessary, the director shall request the attorney general to take appropriate action to recover improperly paid benefits.
Effective Date: 9/13/04