All About California Voting Leave

Voting leave is time off from work to allow an employee to vote in a statewide election. California workplace leave laws -- provided or in Election Code 14000 -- allow paid time off of work to vote. The law has three main components to protect an employee's rights:

  • If the employee does not have enough time outside of normal working hours to vote, the employee may take up to two paid hours of leave to do so.
  • The time off taken must be at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever allows the most time for the employee to vote and is least disruptive to the working shift, unless the employee and employer agree to something different.
  • The employee must provide the employer at least two days advance notice for the requested voting leave.

Under California Election Code 14001, employers are also required to:

  • post a notice;
  • setting forth the provisions of California Election Code 14000;
  • in a conspicuous place at work;
  • at least ten days before every statewide election.

These laws apply to all public agencies as well as all private businesses. Employers are not allowed to punish you for taking time off to vote if you follow the law.

Below, our California employment and labor lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions California employees have about voting leave:

Voting leave
Employers are not allowed to punish you for taking time off to vote if you follow the law.

1. What is voting leave?

Voting leave is time off from work that must be allowed by your employer so that an employee is able to vote. California law sets forth specific requirements that employers and employees must follow to protect the right to vote.

2. Am I able to get paid time off of work to vote?

California Election Code 14000 provides that:

  • if an employee is unable to vote outside of normal working hours,
  • the employee may take up to two paid hours of leave to vote. 1

An employer is only obligated to provide these two hours of paid leave if the employee's normal working hours prevent him or her from voting in a statewide election.

If for some reason the time needed to vote is longer than the two hours, the employee may:

  • take off additional time as needed;
  • without punishment; but
  • without pay after the first two paid hours.

2.1 How long are California polls open?

The State of California keeps polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election days. This means that if an employee's working shift would prevent him or her from voting between those hours, the employee is allowed up to two paid hours of leave to vote.

Example: Charles works at a paper company from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on election day. He has the option to vote before work if he arrives early enough to vote and then makes it to work on time. He also has the option to vote after he gets off work -- there are three full hours from the time he is off work to the time the polls close. His employer likely would not be required to allow him time off of work to vote because the polls are open for a sufficient time after he gets off of his shift.

Example: Miranda works for an oil pipeline company and works regular 12-hour shifts that span from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even though the polls are open until 8 p.m., that may not be enough time for her to travel to her polling place and vote. Miranda is allowed to take paid time off of work to vote if she cannot vote after her shift ends.

Lines can be long. If you know the lines at your polling place are usually long, inform your employer of the time off you anticipate you will need.

3. Can I take time off in the middle of my shift?

California law requires that employees take time off to vote either:

  • at the beginning of the shift; or
  • at the end of the shift;
  • depending on which option would best allow the employee to vote; and
  • disrupt the work shift as little as possible.

Employers and their employees can, however, agree to allow time off to vote in the middle of the shift. 2

4. What do I have to do to get voting leave?

The employee is obligated to provide up to two working days notice to the employer if the employee needs to take time off work to vote. 3

If the employee does not provide the two-day notice, the employer is not required to allow the time off to vote.

5. What do employers have to post under California law?

Employers are required to post:

  • a notice;
  • not less than 10 days before every statewide election;
  • in a conspicuous location at work where employees can easily find it. 4

The California Secretary of State provides employers example "Time off to Vote" Notices in various languages that can be downloaded and posted. 5 Employers may also create their own notice, so long as it complies with California law.

6. Can an employer punish me for taking time off to vote?

If you follow the requirements as provided by the law, your employer is not allowed to punish you for taking time off work to vote. Ways employers have been known to punish employees include:

Depending on the facts of your case, if you are punished for properly exercising your right to request voting leave, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against your employer for damages.

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Call us for help...

For questions about California's voting leave laws or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled California employment attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at the Shouse Law Group. You may also find useful information on our page on jury duty leave in California and bereavement leave rights in California.

We have local law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

Legal References:

  1. California Election Code section 14000(b).
  2. California Election Code section 14000(b).
  3. California Election Code section 14000(c).
  4. California Election Code section 14001.
  5. California Secretary of State."Time off to Vote" Notices.

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