As the November election approaches, Americans gear up to exercise their greatest civic duty — voting. But finding the time to vote is a luxury many working voters struggle with. However, Arizona law simplifies this process by dictating that employers must give eligible voters up to three hours of paid leave in order to vote on Nov. 6.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 16-402, Arizona public and private employers must give their employees paid time off to vote if the following three conditions are met:
- The employee must be eligible to vote in the election.
- The employee requests voting leave one day prior to the election.
- Less than three consecutive hours exist between either: Opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s regular work shift, or the end of the employee’s regular work shift and closing of the polls.
Employees are not liable for any penalty or wage deduction for the mandatory time off, the law states.
“Whether it’s a presidential election year or not, this statute always applies in relation to voting in Arizona,” says John Balitis, an employment attorney with Fennemore Craig.
The statute is important for employers and employees to know because it gives employees beneficial rights in connection to voting, and it also informs employers about their obligations, Balitis says.
However, although the Arizona statute doesn’t require proof of voting, Balitis says they may ask for it.
“If an employer has reason to doubt that the employee actually took the paid time to vote, it would be reasonable for the employer to require the employee provide proof that they actually did vote,” Balitis says.
Employers who violate AZRS: 16-402 are subject to a class two misdemeanor, which is punishable by fines and possible imprisonment.
There are no cases on record of Arizona employers violating AZRS: 16-402, Balitis says.
The following states have a law similar to Arizona’s requirement for voting time off, although not all require employers to pay employees: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The following states do not have any statute regarding employers giving employees time to vote: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rohde Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin,
For more information regarding Arizona Revised Statutes: 16-402, visit azleg.state.az.us.