Taking time off to hit the voting booth

On election day, you might plan to vote over at the local high school during your lunch hour. But it's still worth knowing your rights regarding time off to vote.

Thirty-one states have legal provisions for election day, according to Firstdoor.com, an informational Web site on human resources. "Some states don't have a law, but if they do, employers and employees are often not aware of them," says Billy Dukes, Firstdoor co-founder.

California law stipulates employers must post a notice detailing time-off-for-voting laws 10 days before the election.

In other states where businesses are obligated to allow employees time off to vote, employees are often required to give advance notice.

Seventeen states require that the employee give prior warning. In Kentucky, for example, the day prior to the election is sufficient warning, but the employer is able to stipulate the hours of absence. And laws in Washington State dictate that employers arrange working hours so there is a "reasonable window" for people to vote. Businesses in 24 states must pay regular salaries if employees vote during work hours.

Contact your state's labor department to find out if there are any provisions in your state. Then don't forget to vote Nov. 7.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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