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Time off to vote: Employer obligations to accommodate employees on election day

October 19, 2020 1263

Quick Summary:

Employers should ensure they are in compliance with state law requirements related to employee voting rights and should be prepared to address employee requests for time off prior to Election Day.

With the presidential election just weeks away, practice owners should understand their legal obligations to accommodate employees on election day. In California, employers are required to provide up to two hours of paid time off to employees who do not have enough time outside of work to vote.

Time may be taken only at the beginning or end of the work shift, whichever allows the greatest amount of free time for voting and least time off from work, unless otherwise mutually agreed. Employees can be given as much time as they need in order to vote, but only a maximum of two hours is paid. Employers may also require employees to give advance notice if they will need additional time off for voting.

notice of voting-time requirements must be posted in the practice at least 10 days before the election and must be clear and visible to employees.

3 changes to expect ahead of election day

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Californians will cast their votes this year. Here are three changes voters can expect before heading to the polls, according to KCRA 3.

Mail-in ballots

All active and registered voters will automatically be sent a mail-in ballot. Envelopes must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and can arrive up to 17 days after election day to be counted. Ballot drop-off sites opened Oct. 5.

Fewer polling locations

Now that fewer polling places are available due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 6 signed legislation that allows voting centers to consolidate. Counties can now have one precinct per 10,000 voters instead of the usual 1,000 voters.

Voters can use the Voting Information Tool to find their polling place.

Early voting

Polling places are open from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 for at least 8 hours and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.

Important dates to remember

Additional information and resources for voting in the November general election are available on the California Secretary of State website.