Apple, Inc. – Time Off For Voting (2020)
Outcome: Successfully withdrawn following a productive dialogue.
We believe a well-functioning democracy is good for the economy – which is important for both companies and investors. It may also be beneficial for a company’s reputation to be seen as supportive of democratic values. Company policies regarding time off to vote may significantly impact an employee’s ability to participate in elections.
The US has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world. Census data indicates that 18% of registered voters did not vote in the 2008 elections because of schedule conflicts including work. A Pew Research Report surveyed registered voters who did not vote in the 2014 election – 35% of those surveyed identified schedule conflicts with work or school as the reason for not voting. Surveys also suggest that hourly employees may be impacted the most because of a lack of flexibility in work schedules.
Time required to vote can be unpredictable, ranging from minutes to several hours. But, it is clear that voting demands meaningful amounts of time and in many situations it can be very time consuming. Therefore, having ample time off to vote on Election Day is critically important and can make it possible for more people to follow through on their civic duty to participate in elections.
In the absence of federal law, some states provide employees with time off to vote, but these laws vary widely and are rarely enforced. Some laws provide a modest 60 minutes to vote and often this time is unpaid.
Providing paid time off to vote may lead to more engaged employees who are routinely more productive than those who do not feel engaged. In addition, at a time with a tight labor market, we believe having competitive benefit packages that include time off to vote can be important for attracting and retaining employees. When given time off to vote, surveys have shown stronger employee retention, employees have stronger organizational pride, there is better values alignment between employees and employers, and a stronger perception of work-life balance.
We believe investors would benefit from understanding how Apple supports its employees’ civic engagement, including information about whether Apple’s policies provide employees with time off to vote, who the policy extends to, how much time off is provided, , and what kind of education is provided to make employees aware of these policies.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors prepare a report (at a reasonable cost, in a reasonable time, and omitting confidential information) disclosing its current policies regarding employee time off to vote, and assessing the merits of strengthening those policies.