Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
On April 1, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced amendments to the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget, which includes, among other things, an amendment to its Election Law entitling employees in New York to three hours of paid time off to vote.
The amendment to New York Election Law Section 3-110 provides that all registered voters may request up to three hours of time off, regardless of their schedule, without loss of pay to enable the employee to vote in any public election. The amendment will take effect immediately after Governor Cuomo signs the budget (which had not happened as of April 10, 2019) and will likely apply to requests for time off for the New York state primary on June 25, 2019.
Prior to this amendment, employees were eligible to request up to two hours of paid time off to vote if they did not have four or more consecutive hours off between: (i) the time when the polls opened and they began their shift; or (ii) the end of their shift and the closing of the polls. The new amendment removes the requirement that the employee not have sufficient time before or after work when the polls are open to vote, and allows employees up to three hours of paid time off. Employers may designate whether the time off will be taken at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift.
To be entitled to voting time off, employees must be registered to vote and must provide at least two days’ advance notice of the need for time off to vote. The law is silent on whether an employer can require proof of voting after the employee takes paid time off, or whether the employer may charge time off taken by an employee to vote against the employee’s general paid time off bank provided by the employer’s paid time off policies.
The Election Law also contains an existing posting requirement, which remains intact. At least 10 days before a public election, employers must conspicuously post in the place of work, where it can be seen by employees, a notice setting forth the voting time off entitlement. The notice must remain posted until the polls close. We expect the New York Board of Elections to update the current posting available on its website to reflect the new amendment before the next election.1
1 The current, unamended posting is available here.