ZEELAND CHARTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A West Michigan based furniture maker will give its roughly 8,000 employees the day off on Election Day.
Herman Miller Inc. made the decision back in June as part of a larger effort to make the company more equitable, said Courtney Simmons, who works on the company's diversity and inclusion team.
"We know that our employees that work in the office, many of them have a different level of flexibility to be able to do their work and to step away from their work when they need to. For other employees, they don't have that privilege as easily, especially our hourly employees that work in manufacturing or our store employees," said Simmons, who is a senior program manager for diversity and inclusion.
The company's employees outside the U.S. will also receive the paid holiday, and are encouraged to use it as a day of service. However, Simmons said she plans to use her day off for service, as well, since she's voting absentee.
"With that day off, I can help people, who perhaps didn't leverage mail-in voting, get to the polls in a safe way," Simmons said.
In Michigan, there is no law requiring employers to give their employees time to vote, and election days are not recognized as a federal holiday.
A number of large national companies have announced plans this year to give employees Election Day off, as voter organizations put increasing pressure on corporations to make the move. Just this week, Coca Cola Company announced it would be making Election Day a paid holiday for its U.S.-based employees.
"This will provide employees with the flexibility to vote when it works best for them, and it will also provide an opportunity for our teammates to volunteer and support campaigns and elections in their local communities," a statement from Coca Cola read.
Earlier this year, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called on businesses to make Nov. 3 a holiday. A proposed measure to make election days a holiday and encourage business owners to give employees time to vote has sat in committee without a hearing since last November, says Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown), who sponsored the bill.
"With record turnout expected at the polls this fall, a struggling postal system bringing new challenges to absentee voters and a shortage of election workers, this legislation is even more vital now than it was when I introduced it last November," Camilleri said in an email Thursday.
At Herman Miller, Simmons said she hopes other companies will follow suit.
"This provides an opportunity for people to not make a choice in exercising a really important civic duty and responsibility and a paycheck, or using discretionary time to do it," she said.
Thursday marked the first day for Michigan voters to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election. Visit Michigan.gov/Vote to apply for a ballot.
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