With November 8, 2016 (also known as Election Day), closer than you think, California employers need to be prepared for the presence of politics in the workplace. Under California law, employers play a part in protecting employee voting rights and other political activity.
Regardless of political leanings (and/or the candidate you fear your employees may be voting for), California employers must ensure that employees are given an opportunity to visit the polls, which are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Additionally, employers must post a notice informing employees of their right under California law to take paid leave for the purpose of voting in a statewide election in a conspicuous place ten days before Election Day. It is, however, up to the employee who believes that he/she will need time off to vote to provide you, the employer, with notice no later than two working days before Election Day.
In terms of paid leave, employees are eligible for paid time off for the purpose of voting only if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. Furthermore:
- Employees can be given as much time as they need in order to vote, but only a maximum of two hours is paid.
- Employers may require employees to give advance notice that they will need additional time off for voting.
- Employers may require time off to be taken only at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift.
As we have discussed in previous posts, many individuals, your employees included, take to social media to express their political views. An employer must allow employees to exercise their fundamental right to engage in political activity without interference. The courts have said that, as an employee in California, this is their right. This right extends even beyond Facebook to an employee’s political activities or affiliations. Furthermore, an employer cannot force employees to participate in any particular political activity. It is important to note that a “protected” political activity can also include participation in organizations or movements advocating for political or social causes such as civil and equal rights.
The political landscape in the workplace can be wrought with potential legal landmines. For more information on how to navigate your California business through the political season, contact experienced business attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.