Employers’ Rights, Obligations for the Upcoming Election

Tuesday, November 8, 2022, is the next general election — and since it’s the midterm elections, voters have lots of decisions to make, including seven California ballot propositions, all statewide offices and Supreme Court Justices, as well as Congressional and California Legislature representatives. Employers must make sure they’re complying with their voting leave obligations. But, with such a lengthy ballot, employers may also want to let employees know about how these electoral issues could affect them — and informing employees and stockholders about the impact of state legislation, regulations and ballot measures is within a business owner’s rights.

Fortunately, employers can communicate political messages to their employees — if they do it the right way. CalChamber has prepared this flyer to provide guidelines for employers on how to communicate the impact these issues will have on the workplace, jobs, the economy and employees themselves. For example, employers cannot reward or punish employees for their political activities or beliefs (or threaten to do so). Putting any political messages in or on employees’ payroll envelopes is also forbidden — no paycheck stuffers allowed!

These guidelines note when employers must report what they spend as contributions or lobbying, and make a clear distinction between internal communications (to employees, stockholders and their families) and communications to external audiences (such as non-stockholder retirees, outside vendors, customers or passersby).

Whether or not employers communicate about electoral issues with their employees, they must always be sure to comply with California’s time off to vote law.

Employers’ Election Obligations

All employers, regardless of size, must display a poster describing voting leave requirements at least 10 days before every statewide election. Thankfully, CalChamber’s convenient all-in-one California and Federal Employment Notices Poster contains 18 California and federal notices, including the Time Off to Vote notice.

Additionally, employees who lack sufficient time to vote outside of working hours may legally take up to two hours of paid time to vote in a statewide election. It’s difficult for employees to justify a lack of time to vote — since county election officials mail vote-by-mail ballots to all active registered voters and any registered voter may vote using a vote-by-mail ballot instead of going to the polls on Election Day.

Additionally, California’s Voter’s Choice Act allows voters in 27 counties to vote at any voting center in a participating county starting 10 days before the election — making it even more difficult for employees who vote in these counties to make the case they need to time off to vote. Keep in mind that it is the county where your employee is registered to vote that determines whether the Voter’s Choice Act applies, rather than the county where they work.

Under California law, if an employee does need time off to vote, the:

  • Employee must notify the employer at least two working days in advance to arrange a voting time; and
  • Time must be taken at the beginning or end of the shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from working, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon.

Finally, you can remind employees that the last day to register to vote is October 24, 2022.

Katie Culliton, Editor, CalChamber

CalChamber members can read more about Voting Leave in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

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