Time (Off) to Vote
Employers know that there is an election here in California November 6th, but what obligation do employers have to accommodate their employee’s need to cast ballots? Under section 14000 of the California Elections Code, if an employee does not have time off the clock to go vote, an employer has to provide paid time off:
(a) If a voter does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote at a statewide election, the voter may, without loss of pay, take off enough working time that, when added to the voting time available outside of working hours, will enable the voter to vote.
(b) No more than two hours of the time taken off for voting shall be without loss of pay. The time off for voting shall be only at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless otherwise mutually agreed.
(c) If the employee on the third working day prior to the day of election, knows or has reason to believe that time off will be necessary to be able to vote on election day, the employee shall give the employer at least two working days’ notice that time off for voting is desired, in accordance with this section.
According to section 14001 of the Elections Code, employers have to give notice ten days in advance of statewide elections of the provisions of section 14000. The English language notice is here; the Spanish language notice can be found here.
If employees need to take time off, it is best to schedule as far in advance as possible. Employees don’t have the right to come to work late, or leave early, without notice.
With polls open 12 hours in California, most employees should be able to vote when they are not on duty. For those for whom it is unavoidable, schedule it in advance.
While allowing two paid hours off to vote may seem unfair to some employers, a lot of Americans sacrificed far more so that everyone has the right to vote. Allowing two hours off to vote twice every two years is not an intolerable burden.