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Employee Voting Rights: Arizona Employer Obligations

A.R.S. § 16-402 requires employers to give their workers time off in order to vote

With the August primary and November general elections approaching, Arizona employers should be aware of, and plan for, the impact that Election Day may have on the workplace.

Arizona law requires employers to provide time off for employees to vote. Specifically, an employee may be absent for a length of time, at the beginning or end of his or her work shift, that, when added to the time difference between work shift hours and the opening or closing of the polls, totals three consecutive hours (see example below). This time must be allowed without imposing any penalty on the employee or making a deduction from the employee’s pay. The requirement applies to all primary and general elections held in Arizona.

Employers are not required to post notice of the statute, and they may require employees to give notice, before the day of the election, that they will be taking advantage of the statute. Employers may also select whether the employee takes the time to vote at the beginning or end of his or her work shift. In Arizona, polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.

Although this statutory framework appears simple, applying it can be a little tricky. For example, if an employee usually works from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the employer may require that the employee vote prior to his or her work shift; the employee does not have the option to insist on voting at the end of the workday, which would allow him or her to leave work at 4:00 p.m. The only way the employee would have three consecutive hours to vote before work, however, would be to allow the employee to arrive at 9:00 a.m. The employer is obligated to pay the employee for the half hour between the start of his of her regular work shift at 8:30 a.m. and the actual start time of 9:00 a.m.

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