Next Tuesday our nation goes to the polls in what pundits expect will be record numbers. California employers have special obligations on Election Day to allow employees sufficient time to vote. Employers should ensure that they have a full understanding of and plan for responding appropriately to employee requests for time off to exercise their franchise.

The polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., providing many employees with sufficient time before or after work to vote. Pursuant to California Elections Code §§ 14000-14003, however, if an employee does not believe he or she has sufficient time outside of his or her normal working hours to vote, the employee may take off enough working time to make it to the polls to vote. Employers are required to pay up to two (2) hours of time off on Election Day to enable an employee to vote. Any additional time taken by the employee to vote would be without pay. The law requires that the time taken off by the employee has to be at the beginning or end of the employee’s regular work shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the employee’s regular work hours, unless the employer and the employee otherwise agree.

Employees who know or have reason to believe on the third working day prior to Election Day that they will have to take time off from their regular workday to vote are required to provide their employers with notice of this at least two (2) working days prior to the election.

Employers are required to post a Notice in their offices regarding these election-related employee rights at least ten (10) days before every statewide election. The posting has to be placed conspicuously at the workplace, if practicable, or in a location where it can be seen as the employees come or go to their place of work. Such Notices can be downloaded from the California Secretary of State’s website in a variety of languages, or employers can call the Elections Division at (916) 657-2166 to obtain posters of the Notices.