By Tiffanny Brosnan, Swen Prior, David P. Williams and Marian Zapata-Rossa
Movie stars, musicians and athletes are popping up everywhere urging Americans to vote. Your employees are getting the message. So, what happens if an employee asks to take time off of work to vote? Do you have to grant the time off? Do you have to pay for the time? The answers to these questions vary from state to state. There is no “one size fits all” federal law regarding voting rights. Instead, states have created their own laws with their own intricacies. In California, for example, employees can take off up to two hours of working time to vote without loss of pay if the employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. California Elections Code section 1400.
In Nevada, if it is impracticable for the employee to vote before or after work, the employee must be allowed to take sufficient time off–up to three hours–depending on the distance between the employee’s place of work and the polling place. The time off must be paid. NRS 293.463.
In Utah, the employer must provide the employee with up to two hours paid time off to vote, but that’s only if the employee does not have three or more consecutive off-duty hours in which to vote while polls are open. Utah Code 20A-3-103.
In Arizona, employees must be granted at least three consecutive hours to vote between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their regular work shift or between the end of their work shift and the closing of the polls. The employees’ pay cannot be reduced because of an absence required by voting. Arizona Revised Statute, section 16-402.
These are examples of just a few states’ voting laws and these are only the main points. There are other fine points, such as whether the employee needs to request the time off in advance of election day, that also vary state by state. Employers should familiarize themselves with the requirements of their particular state. Finally, as has been the theme of 2020 employment law, employers should consider how their voting laws apply in the case of employees who are now working remotely.