💡 Get Philly smart 💡
with BP’s free daily newsletter

Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.

It feels like a handful of factors are competing to make voters anxious about the 2020 election. One of them doesn’t relate to the candidates or the pandemic: finding time to vote. Though it’s easy for Pennsylvanians to cast a mail ballot early this year, some feel more comfortable doing it in person.

Since Election Day is not a holiday in the U.S., as it is in some countries, anyone who wants to make it to the polls on Nov. 3 must navigate their work schedule.

Some companies make that easy by giving employees the day off. Nationally, more than 600 organizations have either called off work or designated the first Tuesday in November a “day without meetings” to give people flexibility. Participants run the gamut, including Best Buy, Gap, Lyft and Twitter. Walmart is giving 1.5 million workers three hours paid time off to vote.

That phenomenon isn’t really showing up in Philadelphia.


Billy Penn surveyed several of the city’s biggest employers, and found none offering a universal day off on Election Day to give people time to vote.

Some are prohibiting managers from scheduling meetings to offer more flexibility. Fewer are providing a few hours off, or closing up shop early on Nov. 3. And most organizations we asked will allow employees to be poll workers — if they request the day off.

Here’s a rundown of Philly companies’ Election Day policies this year.

Comcast: No special time off or benefits

If a Comcast employee wants time off to vote, they’ll have to use their accrued paid time off. The broadband provider isn’t offering new time off or providing any other flexibility specific to Election Day.

A Comcast spokesperson said the company respects its employees’ civic duty, but also has a responsibility to staff retail stores and respond to technical difficulties.

IBX: A half day of PTO and no meetings

Independence Blue Cross is offering its employees an extra half day of paid time off, which they can use on Nov. 3 to vote if they choose. IBX also prohibited supervisors from scheduling meetings on Election Day to offer employees more flexibility.

GlaxoSmithKline: 3 hours of PTO and no meetings

The international pharma company with one of its headquarters in Philly is offering some Election Day benefits.

For salaried workers — which a spokesperson said make up most of the local force — GSK has instructed managers not to schedule any meetings to free up time for voting. Hourly workers will receive three extra hours of PTO, which they can use on Nov. 3 so long as they provide managers with five days notice.

City of Philadelphia: No special time off or benefits — and you can’t be a poll worker

Election Day isn’t a city holiday, so employees don’t get time off. They’d need to use PTO if they want extra time to vote, per city spokesperson Lauren Cox.

Also, the State Election Code prohibits city employees from being poll workers. Depending on how many poll workers the Commissioners are able to train on time, some city employees might be called in for support on Nov. 3.

Same goes for employees of Philadelphia International Airport, since it’s owned and operated by the city’s Division of Aviation.

School District: Most employees have off on Election Day

In Philly public schools, Election Day is already marked as a holiday on the academic calendar. That means nearly all staff members have off on Nov. 3, with no need to report to work, in person or virtually.

But not everyone gets the day free, per school district spokesperson Monica Lewis. Each public school has a building engineer that will need to report that day. Same with the people who work at District HQ on North Broad — think folks like Dr. Hite, other high-level administrators and support staff.

SEPTA: No special time off or benefits

SEPTA’s not offering anything special for Election Day — but like many other Philly companies, the transit agency is fine with folks requesting off that day to vote or work at the polls using their regular PTO.

Drexel: Early dismissal to give more voting time

Drexel University is closing early at 2 p.m. on Election Day, so students, staff and faculty can cast their ballots, per spokesperson Niki Gianakaris. That’s on top of the 16 hours of PTO that Drexel specifically provides for employees to use for “civic engagement activities,” like working voter registration drives or at polling places.

Penn: You can have the day off if you’re a poll worker 

No special benefits for Penn employees who want extra time to vote or volunteer in a political capacity.

But if an employee wants to be a poll worker — a paid gig that requires about 15 hours of work on Election Day — then they can file a request to get the day off under their jury duty PTO bank. They’ve just got to do it before Oct. 30 and get approval from their supervisor.

Temple University: No special time off or benefits

Any Temple employees who want extra time to vote or work the polls will need to request vacation or personal time off from their supervisors, said university spokesperson Ray Betzner. Otherwise, no special benefits for Election Day.

Betzner emphasized that most employees are working from home anyway, which he said offers more time before and after work to hit the polls.

CHOP: You have to use PTO, but you can take it in smaller increments

At CHOP, employees won’t be provided any extra paid time off for Election Day. But since many employees have to work 12-hour shifts — including on Nov. 3 — the children’s hospital is providing the option to schedule paid time off in increments of four hours so people can do their civic duty.

CHOP is also participating in the VotER initiative, a competition between U.S. medical centers to see how many staff, students and patients the hospital can register to vote on site.

Penn Medicine: No special time off or benefits 

Penn Medicine isn’t offering its employees any new time off or benefits on Election Day.

Like CHOP, the West Philly hospital is participating in the VotER initiative. Penn Medicine has already registered more than 3,500 patients to vote.

Thomas Jefferson: No special time off or benefits

The hospital and medical school aren’t giving employees any formal time off for Election Day. Instead, spokesperson Brandon Lausch said, they’re just asking supervisors to be flexible.

Aramark: No response

The Philly-based food service and facilities giant didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

GoPuff: No response

The Philly-born delivery startup did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its Election Day policies at 200 fulfillment centers across the country.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...