Does an Oklahoma Employer Have to Give Time off to Vote?

While national elections are still a year away, primary campaign season for both the Republican and Democratic parties is heating up. With many of the myriad of candidates in the news every day, Oklahoma residents may be beginning to contemplate how he or she may cast their ballots in the primaries next spring, the general election the following fall and local elections that take place every year. One question that may come up for Oklahoma workers is if he or she can take time off work to do their civic duty and participate in an election.

Oklahoma Statute 26-7-101 governs what is required from employers on or about Election Day. It provides that employers who have employees who are registered voters must provide those employees with two hours of leave on Election Day during the time the polls are open so that an employee may cast a ballot.

Further, if the employee is far enough away from a designated polling place that two hours is insufficient time for him or her to vote, the employer must allow them the time necessary. The law also requires that the employee be paid for the time in which he or she is casting a ballot.

There are, however, some restrictions on the employee's right to time off. First, the employee must notify the employer the day prior to Election Day that he or she plans to take time off to vote. Also, the employer may set the exact two-hour period the employee may go to the polling place. Finally, the employer is not required to give paid leave to vote if the employee's shift begins at least three hours after polls open, or ends three hours before polls close.

An employee who has questions about this right to vote or any kind of illegal discrimination may wish to contact an experienced Oklahoma employment law attorney. This could help him or her better understand their situation, allowing them to make an informed decision.