Election Day Is Near: Are You Required to Give Employees Time Off to Vote? Likely!

by Joshua C. Black, Esq.

The 2020 presidential election could end up with the highest voter turnout seen in the U.S. in more than a century. As an American, it is not only your right to vote, it is an important civic duty.

But, as an employer, are you required to give employees time off to vote?

Currently, there are 30 states in the U.S. that require business owners to give workers either paid or unpaid time off to vote on Election Day. Arizona mandates that employees be given paid time off to vote under certain conditions.

What Are My Legal Obligations?

According to Arizona Revised Statute 16-402, a person who is entitled to vote in a primary or general election may, on the day of the election, leave work for the purpose of voting if there are fewer than three consecutive hours:

  • Between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their regular work shift, or
  • Between the end of their regular work shift and the closing of the polls.

Employees cannot be fired for requesting time off to vote. Nor can employees be docked pay, have their hours decreased or face disciplinary action for taking time off to cast a ballot.

As a Business Owner, What Should I Do Before Nov. 3?

Now is the time to review existing policies and practices to ensure you are in compliance with applicable laws. You also want to make sure you are prepared to address employee requests for time off prior to Election Day.

In Arizona, employers do not have to pay for more than three hours of leave, or allow an employee to take more than three hours off to vote. You can specify a timeframe when your employees are allowed to go to the polls. Be proactive to assure your business needs are covered on Election Day. Determine ahead of time how many of your employees want to vote, so they have the chance to do so without impacting your business in a negative way.

Poll officials anticipate unprecedented voter turnout this year, so encourage your employees to plan ahead and find out the slower times at their chosen polling place to make the most of their time off.

As Election Day approaches, make sure you are in compliance with state law requirements related to employee voting rights. It is against the law to refuse your employees the opportunity to vote if they meet the requirements under A.R.S. 16-402. Protect yourself, and your staff, by establishing open lines of communication and determining a clear plan before Election Day arrives.

Joshua C. Black is an Arizona attorney who provides focused representation in employment disputes. His Phoenix-area office represents clients in a variety of employment related matters including wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, disability discrimination, wage disputes and more.

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