With Election Day quickly approaching, employers must be mindful of employees’ right to take time off from work to vote. The following is an overview of Arizona law (A.R.S. § 16-402) regarding the issue:
- Employees may take leave from work for the purpose of voting if there are less than three consecutive hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee's regular workshift or between the end of his/her regular workshift and the closing of the polls.
- If an employee has less than three consecutive hours to vote, the employee may take leave for such length of time at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift that, when added to the time difference between workshift hours and the opening or closing of the polls, will provide a total of three consecutive hours.
- An employee shall not be penalized, nor suffer any deduction in the employee’s usual salary or wages, for taking time off to vote in accordance with the statute.
- An employee wishing to take time off to vote in an election shall apply to an employer for such leave prior to the day of the election. The employer may specify the hours during which employees may take leave.
- A person who refuses to provide an employee with the rights conferred by the statute may be found guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
In addition to the foregoing, it should be noted that Section 16-1012 of the Arizona Revised Statutes prohibits employers from taking certain actions with respect to influencing employee voting. In particular, Arizona law prohibits employers from the following:
- In paying employees their salary or wages, employers may not enclose such pay in envelopes upon which there is written or printed any political mottoes, devices or arguments containing threats, expressed or implied, intended or calculated to influence the political opinions, views or actions of the employees.
- Within 90 days of an election, employers may not put up or otherwise exhibit in any place where employees are working or are present in the course of employment a handbill, notice or placard containing a threat, notice or information that if any particular ticket or candidate is elected or defeated, work will cease, in whole or in part, that the employer will shut down, that the wages of employees will be reduced or making any other threats, expressed or implied, intended or calculated to influence the political opinions or actions of any employees.
- An employer, whether acting in his or her individual capacity or as an officer or agent of a corporation, who violates Section 16-1012, may be found guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
Remember as well that collective bargaining agreements or company policies might be more favorable or grant greater rights than what the statutes provide.