Question:

My business is open 24 hours per day. I know that there are some laws about allowing employees time off to vote in elections. Some of my employees travel 30 – 60 miles a day to get to the worksite. What are my obligations when it comes to giving my employees time off to vote, and do I have to give all of my employees time off to vote?

Answer:

As the election approaches, many employers are wondering whether they are required to give some or all of their employees time off from work to vote and, whether they are required to pay the employees for time off to vote. Although federal law does not require private employers to give employees time off to vote, California law does require voting time off.

California Elections Code Section 14000 states that if a voter does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote in a statewide election, the voter can take time off of work to vote. The time off to vote is paid time. The employee can take off enough working time which, when added to the voting time available outside of working hours, will enable the voter to vote, up to a maximum of 2 hours. The time off shall be taken at the beginning or the end of the employee’s regular working shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless the employee and the employer agree otherwise. The law requires the employee to give the employer at least two working days notice if the employee needs time off in order to vote.

The California Elections Code also requires employers to post a notice no less than 10 days before every statewide election explaining employees’ right to time off to vote. A notice is available in English and Spanish from the California Secretary of State website at www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections_tov.htm. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place at the worksite.

For the national and statewide election that will occur on November 2, 2004, the employer should post the voting rights notice by October 22, 2004. Your employees are required to inform you if they need time off to vote by October 28, 2004. Because the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., your employees may not need time off to vote. However, if they request time off to vote, they must be given up to two hours off without deduction of pay. You are not required to give all employees time off to vote, only those who request it because they have insufficient time outside of working hours to vote.
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