After what feels like the longest presidential campaign in U.S. history, Election Day is almost here.

You knew that already. But do you know California’s laws on employee voting rights? Here is a primer.

Can Employees Take Time Off to Vote?

As Election Day approaches, California employers should be aware of Elections Code section 14000. That statute allows public and private employees to take time off to vote in statewide elections, which includes the November 8, 2016, election. Section 14000 generally provides that:

  1. If an employee does not have sufficient time to vote outside of working hours, he or she can take enough time off work to allow him or her to vote;
  2. If the employee must take time off from working hours to vote, a maximum of two hours shall be “without loss of pay”;
  3. Employers may require that the time off to vote be taken either at the beginning or the end of the employee’s shift, “whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift”; and
  4. Employees requesting time off to vote must provide at least two working days’ notice to the employer.

In addition, not less than 10 days before every statewide election (so no later than October 29 for this upcoming election), employers must post a notice that sets forth the requirements of Section 14000. The“Time Off to Vote” Notice is published in English, Spanish and other languages.

Can I Be Fired For Exercising My Right to Vote?

Unsurprisingly, California law prohibits employers from making, adopting or enforcing any rule, regulation or policy: (1) limiting employees' engagement or participation in politics; (2) prohibiting employees from becoming candidates for public office; or (3) forbidding, controlling, directing or tending to direct the political activities or affiliations of employees. 

California law also prohibits employers from coercing or attempting to coerce employees “to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.”

In short, it's probably not a good idea for employers to retaliate against employees for exercising their Constitutional right to vote or otherwise engaging in the political process.

If you have questions about employee voting rights in California, don't hesitate to contact us. Hopefully everyone gets out to vote this year. It's a great, important privilege that we're fortunate to have.