Employers and employees should take note that the New York State Election Law was amended this past April.
Specifically, section 3-110, which relates to providing employees with time off to vote, clarifies the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees.
WHO’S ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE TIME OFF
Employees are eligible for up to two hours of paid time off to vote—a change from the three hours previously allotted, amended just a year ago—if they don’t otherwise have sufficient time to vote.
“Sufficient time” is four consecutive hours to vote, either from the opening of the polls to the beginning of the employee’s work shift or from the end of the shift to the closing of the polls.
Since most polls will be open on November 3 from 6 am to 9 pm, employees working from 9 am to 5 pm are not eligible for paid time off to vote. Employees working until 6 pm, however, are.
Employees cannot be required to utilize any form of personal or earned leave time to vote.
HOW MUCH PAID TIME OFF TO VOTE ARE EMPLOYEES ENTITLED TO?
Eligible employees are entitled to two hours of paid time off to vote.
Note that two hours is the maximum paid time the law provides for. Allowing employees more time beyond that, paid or unpaid, is at the employer’s discretion.
Beyond the letter of the law, we advise employers to be flexible and provide employees with time to vote even if an employee’s schedule doesn’t strictly mandate it.
We likewise encourage both employers and employees to consider factors like traffic, COVID-19 safety precautions, waiting times at polling places, childcare challenges, and other such factors.
DO EMPLOYEES NEED TO NOTIFY EMPLOYERS OF THEIR INTENTION TO TAKE PAID TIME OFF TO VOTE?
Yes. An employee who plans to take paid time off to vote must notify their employer at least two working days prior.
Note that this refers to business days, so employees must notify their employers by Friday, October 30 at the latest.
DO EMPLOYERS NEED TO NOTIFY EMPLOYEES OF THEIR RIGHTS TO PAID TIME OFF TO VOTE?
Yes. Employers must post a notice in a conspicuous spot in the workplace, where it can be seen by all employees as they come or go, no less than ten working days before the election—meaning by Tuesday, October 20.
The notice should be kept posted until the close of polls on election day, November 3.
Employers should update their policies and procedures, including employee handbooks, office calendars, etc., to make sure they are compliant with the amended law.
The notice can be found on the New York State Board of Elections’ website here. An FAQ sheet can be found here.
For any questions or assistance, contact us.