Election Reminder: New York Employees Entitled to 3 Paid Hours Off to Vote

October 30, 2019

Topics: Disability and Leave Obligations

With the upcoming election on November 5, New York employers are reminded that a new law effective this past spring entitles employees in New York up to three hours of paid time off to vote on election day.

The amendment to New York’s Election Law provides that all registered voters are entitled to request up to three hours of time off to vote in any public election, and such hours must be paid by their employer, without regard to the specific employees schedule. In order to be entitled to this paid voting time, employees need to: (1) be registered to vote; and (2) give their employer at least 2 days’ notice before taking the time off. The employer may decide and designate if the paid time off will need to taken by the employee at the beginning or at the end of his or her scheduled shift. Unlike the prior law about time off to vote, to take the 3 hours of paid leave, the employee does not have to be in a situation where he or she does not have enough time before or after their workday when the polls are open to vote.

The law does not specify whether employers can ask for or require evidence as to whether the employee is actually registered to vote or whether the employee actually in fact voted, and the law does not indicate whether employers can require employees to use hours from the employee’s accrued paid time off bank, if the employer has a paid time off policy/program.

Finally, the law does not change the Election Law’s already existing posting requirement. At least ten working days before any public election (which, for the November 5 election, was October 22), employers must, in the place of work where it can be seen by employees, conspicuously post a notice that contains the details of this amendment and these paid voting time off rights, and the notice is required to stay posted until the polls close. The New York Board of Elections website provides a model notice that fulfills this requirement.