With the November presidential election just around the corner, you need to be aware that many states have laws requiring employers to give employees paid time off to vote. Penalties for noncompliance may include fines, imprisonment, or loss of the right to do business in the state. Here is a summary of relevant state voting laws:

Arizona:

Employees who have less than three consecutive hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their regular work shift, or the closing of the polls and the ending of their regular work shift, must be allowed up to three consecutive hours of paid time off to vote. The employee must notify the employer about his absence. The employer may specify the hours of the employee’s absence. Employers who directly or indirectly fail to comply with this law are guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor and may be fined up to $750.

California:

Employees must be given sufficient time off at the beginning or ending of their shift to vote unless the employer and employee agree to another mutually convenient time. Employers are required to pay employees for the paid time off up to two hours. Employees must give the employer at least two days notice prior to the absence that they need time off to vote. More importantly, employers must post a notice of any statewide election setting forth employees’ voting rights at least 10 days before the election. Employers who fail to comply with these provisions may be fined up to $1,000, be imprisoned for 16 months or two to three years, or be punished by both fine and imprisonment.

Colorado:

Employees must be allowed up to two hours of paid time off to vote unless there are three or more hours between the time of the opening or closing of the polls and the employee’s scheduled shift. Employees must give the employer notice of his absence prior to the day of election. Employers may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent, but the specified hours must be at the beginning or ending of the employee’s shift at the employee’s request. Employers who fail to comply with these provisions may be fined up to $1,000, be imprisoned for up to one year, or be punished by both fine and imprisonment. Corporate employers who violate these provisions may forfeit their charter and right to do business in the state of Colorado.

Utah:

Employees must be allowed up to two hours of paid time off to vote unless there are three or more hours of non-working time during the time the polls open and close. Employees must give the employer notice of his absence prior to the day of election. Employers may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent, but the specified hours must be at the beginning or ending of the employee’s shift at the employee’s request. Employers who fail to comply with these provisions may be fined up to $1,000 or be imprisoned for up to six months. Corporate employers who violate these provisions may be fined up to $5,000.

Although your state may not require paid time off, nothing precludes you from implementing a voting policy that offers your employees more flexibility than what the law requires. Should you have questions about any of these laws, the laws of any state not listed, or would like assistance implementing a voting policy for your employees, contact any HRO employment lawyer.