As safe in-person voting became an issue in other states, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order requiring each county’s election officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters for the November election. The Governor also issued an executive order requiring counties to provide early polling locations for at least three days prior to election day. In light of these initiatives to ensure wide availability of voting options in California, employers may question if they still are required to provide time during the workday for their employees to vote?
Under California Election Code § 14000, employers must provide two hours of paid time for employees to vote, if the employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote in a statewide election. This requirement applies to private and public employers in the state. While this year there are expanded opportunities for voting, employers must still provide leave as needed by employees pursuant to the California Election Code. There is no exception under the Code due to the availability of mail-in ballot or early voting options.
In order to take leave to vote, employees must request the time at least two working days’ notice prior to the time off for voting desired.
According to the California Election Code, employers must also post a notice of voting time requirements at least 10 days before an election conspicuously at the place of work, if practicable, or elsewhere where it can be seen as employees come or go to their place of work. Employers can satisfy this requirement by posting a copy of the “Time Off to Vote” notice which is found on the Secretary of State’s website. Employers that are largely telecommuting due to COVID-19 may consider alternate methods of communication, such as providing notice to remote employees via email or through their company intranet.
If you need assistance ensuring compliance with local or federal laws pertaining to elections and voting, including time off requirements contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.