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Time Off To Vote On Election Day? Paid Time Off? Possibly.

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Election day is November 8, 2016 and all polling stations will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Employees who have not yet voted via absentee ballot or early voting who do not have sufficient time outside of their working hours to vote, can qualify to take as much time off as they reasonably need to vote. Typically, Elections Code § 14001 applies to a very limited number of employees. For example, the employee would need to have an hour commute, and be scheduled to work a twelve (12) hour starting at 7:00 a.m. in order to qualify. This employee would qualify as he could not reasonably reach his polling station before it opened 7:00 a.m. or closed at 8:00 p.m.

However, this is not a typical election year. The ballot is very long – more than a hundred items. Employer should therefore expect employee to ask for time off on election day due to the long lines at the polls.

So, what are employers to do?

Employee Requirements

In order to receive up to two paid hours of time off to vote, employees who reasonably believe that they will need time off to vote must give notice to their employer and the amount of time off they believe they need prior two (2) days prior to the election.

However, employees can request time off as late as election day. If an employee learns there are two hour lines at her polling place, and she cannot reasonably get to the polls before 7:00 p.m. the employee can ask to leave early to vote, and her employer may have to give the employee the time off, without reprisal. Whether or not the employer must give the time off will depend upon an odd test – whether the employee reasonably knew on the third working day prior to the election that s/he would need time off to vote.

Employer Requirements

Employers must give employees notice of his/her rights to take time off to vote by posting a “Time Off To Vote” Notice at least ten (10) days prior to the election. Notices must be placed in each employees’ workplace, or where it can be seen by employees as they enter or exist their place a work. Copies of the Notice in English and Spanish are attached.

Recommended Action: To avoid potential workplace disruptions, we recommend:

  • Posting the required Notices.
  • Speak with employees before the weekend to confirm that the employee does not anticipate a need to take time off to vote.
  • If an employee needs time off to vote, try to make adjustments to employee’s work schedule now to avoid unscheduled time and/or paid time off.

Should you have questions concerning political speech in the workplace, please contact Doug Wade at (714) 453-9144 or email doug@dmwadelaw.com.

CLICK to download Notices

The materials contained herein are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For advice about a particular problem or situation, please contact an attorney.

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