New York’s 2019-2020 State Budget Provides Employees with Three Hours of Paid Time Off to Vote
Update: New York Election Law Amended to Once Again Require Two Hours of Paid Time Off to Vote
As part of New York State’s budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, Section 3-110 of the Election Law has been amended to revert back to the prior requirements for paid voting leave. The law had been amended in the FY2019-2020 budget to require three hours of paid leave, regardless of whether the employee had time to vote before or after the employee’s shift. Under the current version, if an employee requests time off to vote, employers are once again only required to provide up to two hours of paid time off if the employee does not have four consecutive hours, before or after the employee’s shift, in which to vote while the polls are open.
The revised law has also reinstated the requirement that employees ask for time off at least ten days in advance. New York employers are still required to post a notice in the workplace setting forth the provisions of Section 3-110 at least ten working days before an election, although the New York State Board of Elections has not yet issued a revised notice. We expect that a revised notice will be issued prior to New York’s Primary Election on June 23, 2020. Employers will have to again post the notice at least ten working days before the November 3, 2020, General Election. Employers should also review any written policies to make sure they comply with the revised law.
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.
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.