Question: My company has employees in New York and California. With the upcoming presidential primary elections and caucuses, do we have to give employees time off to vote? If so, do we need to pay them for that time? Are there any other considerations we should be aware of?
Answer: Many states require employers to provide employees with time off to fulfill their civic duty to vote, and New York and California happen to be two of the states that require employers to do just that.
- California Elections Code Section 14001 states that employees are eligible for up to two hours of paid time off for the purpose of voting, ONLY if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. The intent of the law is to provide an opportunity for workers to vote during the voting time window of 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. Employers may require employees to give advance notice that they will need additional time off for voting.
California employers have an additional obligation to post an employee notice at least 10 days before a statewide election in a conspicuous place where employees would see it and leave it posted until the close of the polls on election day. This posting is available in both English and Spanish at the California Department of State website.
California’s primary election is Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
- New York Section 3-110 states that if a registered voter does not have sufficient time outside of working hours, then s/he may have up to two hours of paid time off to enable the employee to vote. If that employee has four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the work shift or between the closing of the polls and the end of the work shift, then the law determines that the employee has had sufficient time to vote. If the employee does need time off to vote, the employee is responsible to notify the employer within a two to ten working day window prior to the election of his/her need for the time off.
Like California, New York requires that employers post a notice of time off to vote in a conspicuous place not less than ten working days before every election and keep it posted until the close of the polls on election day. You can find a copy of the law and sample posting at: http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/AttentionEmployees.pdf
New York’s primary election is Tuesday, April 24, 2012.
If you would like more information about voting laws and current primary dates in other states, please visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website at http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/2012-presidential-primary-calendar.aspx.