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New York’s 2019-2020 State Budget Provides Employees with Three Hours of Paid Time Off to Vote

May 3, 2019

As part of the 2019-2020 New York State budget, New York’s Election Law was amended, effective immediately, to allow employees to take up to three hours of paid time off from work to vote. The law also requires that employer post a notice ten working days before every election. The text of the law, and the required notice, can be found here.

The law, an amendment to section 3-110 of the Election law, 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 at any election.” Employees must provide their employers with notice of the need to take such leave at least two working days before the election, and the leave may only be taken at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift, unless otherwise mutually agreed by the employer and the employee.

Prior to the amendment, employees could only request up to two hours of paid time off to vote, and the request only had to be granted if the employee did not have four consecutive hours, before or after the employee’s shift, in which to vote while the polls are open. As polls in New York City and many nearby counties (including Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Orange and Putnam) usually open at 6:00 a.m. and remain open until 9:00 p.m., many employees had at least four hours to vote before or after work and were therefore not entitled to any paid time off to vote.

By contrast, there is nothing in the amended law that requires an employee to show that the employee actually needs the time off in order to reach the polls, nor is there any provision allowing an employer to deny an employee’s request for paid time off to vote.

Next Steps:

As the law went into effect when it was signed, it will apply to this year’s June 25, 2019 primary. Employers should revise their voting time policies and remember to post the required notice by June 11, 2019, ten working days before the June 25 primary. The notice must remain posted until the polls close on election day.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys if you have any questions regarding the new law or would like assistance in reviewing and updating your policy.