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Taliking Points

Workday Voting Window

October 29, 2000|LISA GIRION

California residents can vote in the Nov. 7 election during work hours and be paid two hours' wages for it--as long as the boss has advance notice.

Although federal law protects a citizen's right to vote, states arbitrate workplace discipline, time off and pay rules. California was among the first states 50 years ago to establish a worker's right to time off to vote. Now 31 states have laws governing time off to vote.

California law allows workers to take time at the beginning or end of a shift to vote and to be paid for up to two hours as long as they arrange it with their employer two workdays in advance, according to CCH Inc., a publishing company that specializes in employment issues.

California law does not specify how an employer may be sanctioned for failing to comply, but other states do. In Arkansas, failure to give an employee an opportunity to vote--without pay--is punishable by as little as $25. In Arizona, Kansas and Missouri, employers can be fined as much as $2,500.

Enabling Employees

Employers looking to hire or accommodate employees with disabilities can get help from Job Accommodation Network, a free, confidential consulting service.

With their toll-free telephone service ([800] 526-7234), JAN consultants can answer specific queries from employers, employees and rehabilitation specialists on hiring, retraining, retention and advancement of people with disabilities.

Many suggestions JAN consultants have offered are inexpensive or free, including installing a telephone amplifier ($56) for a hearing-impaired computer programmer. In another case, JAN suggested $950 worth of equipment to enable a sales agent paralyzed from a broken neck. The reorienting of a desk to accommodate a data entry clerk with a shoulder injury cost nothing.

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