With the November general election quickly approaching, Arizona employers should begin any necessary preparation for the potential impact voting may have upon the workplace. Arizona law requires employers to provide employees with time off work to vote if there are less than three consecutive hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s assigned shift OR the end of the employee’s assigned shift and the closing of the polls. The employer may not impose a penalty, such as a deduction from the employee’s pay, as a result of the employee’s time off to vote. An employer that refuses an employee the right to paid voting leave may be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor. Employers, however, may require employees to request time off prior to the day of the election and may specify the hours an employee can leave to vote.

Arizona polls are scheduled to be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thus, for example, if an employee is scheduled to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the employer may comply with the voting leave law by allowing the employee to arrive at 9:00 a.m. and paying the employee wages for the one (1) hour he or she otherwise would have worked. By granting one hour of paid leave at the beginning of the employee’s shift, the employer will ensure that the employee had three (3) consecutive hours in which to vote.

Given the long wait times reported during the recent Arizona primaries, there may be an increase in early voting by mail. Nonetheless, we strongly recommend that employers review their current policies and consult an employment attorney to ensure full compliance