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Election Day 2012: Can I Take Time Off Of Work To Vote?

Election Day is rapidly approaching and California workers should take a minute to make sure they know about their voting rights at the workplace. California law aggressively guarantees an employee's ability to participate in democracy by requiring employers to cooperate.

Employees have two big protections. If an employer violates either of these rules, employees could have a wage dispute under California law.

These protections apply during the voting hours from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The polls are open at those times and eligible voters are entitled to take full advantage of the voting process at any point. This means that an employer must allow all employees to take as much time as they need to vote. Just as importantly, the law also prohibits employers from deducting any pay from employees who miss scheduled work hours to vote. This can cover as much as two hours away from work.

Of course, there are some limitations on these rules. The right to miss work with full pay for two hours only applies to employees who are actually scheduled to work during the voting hours of 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Any employee who wants to take advantage of the opportunity must vote either before the beginning or after the end of the scheduled shift. Employees have to make an arrangement with their employer to go at any other time. Another limitation is that the employee may have to give the employer two working days of notice.

This is another example of California workplace protections - employees should take full advantage of this opportunity to participate in the upcoming elections.

Source: California Secretary of State, "'Time off to Vote' Notices"

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