New Law Grants Employees Three Hours Paid Time Off to Vote

New York’s Election Law was recently amended to allow ALL employees in New York State who are registered voters to take up to three hours of paid time off to vote in “any election”, regardless of their work schedule. The term “any election” includes the General Election held in November. It also appears to include Local, State and Federal Primary Elections in June, special elections which can take place any time of the year and even Village Elections in March. But, according to the New York State Board of Elections, the term does NOT include school district elections. We are hopeful that the Board of Elections will issue further guidance to clarify the definition of “any election” in this context.

The amendment eliminates the law’s prior eligibility condition that an employee must not have “sufficient time” outside of working hours to vote. The law contained a presumption that four consecutive hours before or after work constituted “sufficient time” in which to vote. The law now simply states that a registered voter may, without loss of pay for up to three hours, take off so much working time as will enable him or her to vote. This three hours of paid time off may not be deducted from any other type of paid leave time.

In order to be eligible for the time off, an employee must only comply with the following conditions:

1. Be a registered voter.
2. Provide written notice to the employer at least two working days before the day of the election.

The newly-revised law permits an employer to designate whether the time off will be at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift. The employer and employee may also mutually agree on other arrangements.

News of this amendment should also serve as a reminder to all employers of this law’s long-standing posting requirement. For many years, Election Law section 3-110 has required employers to post a notice in the workplace informing employees of their rights and obligations under the statute. The notice must be posted starting at least ten working days before each election, until the polls close on the date of the election. Download the revised notice from the New York State Board of Elections here.

At this time, the New York State Board of Elections has not expressed an opinion on whether employers may require proof that employees who took time off to vote actually voted. It is possible that the Board of Elections may issue answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” about this and other issues related to this law.

For further information and/or assistance in this regard, please feel free to contact our Firm at (315) 437-7600. Also, please note that this and many other employment law and HR topics will be addressed at our 18th Annual Employment and Human Resources Law Solutions Conference on May 16-17, 2019 at Turning Stone Resort Casino. Click here for complete details.

Michael L. Dodd, Partner and Association Counsel
Ferrara Fiorenza PC

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