With Election Day rapidly approaching, New Yorkers are already making voting plans with an eye towards the long lines that await them at their local polling place. To best ensure that they will be able to cast an in-person ballot on November 3rd — in what is being touted as the most important election of our lifetime (Newsflash: this same declaration is made every four years) –many voters will have to juggle work schedules, family commitments and a host of other conflicting obligations in order to get to the polls. While workers solidify their individual voting plans, employers must be cognizant of the legal obligations they have with respect to Election Day. These legal obligations are spelled out in New York’s Election Law and are summarized below.
On April 3, 2020 Governor Cuomo signed certain budget legislation that also included an amendment to the Election Law which resulted in the re-enactment of the pre-2019 law that governed employee time off to vote. Section 3-110 of New York’s Election Law now provides, yet again, that employers must provide their employees with “sufficient time” outside of the employee’s working hours to accommodate said employee’s plan to vote. Sufficient time is defined as having four consecutive hours between the start or end of the employee’s shift and the opening and closing of the polls. Therefore, if the employee has a four hour block to cast his or her ballot, that is considered sufficient time and the employer need not provide the employee with paid time off to vote during the workday. If, however, the employee does not have sufficient time, they may take as much time off to vote as needed. Two (2) of those hours must be paid by the employer. Employers are entitled to designate whether the time the employee takes off occurs during the end or beginning of the workday. The time off may not be charged against the employee’s other paid time off privileges, i.e. vacation, sick and personal days.
To facilitate the process, employees must notify their employees no more than ten (10) days and no less than two days before Election Day that they need time off to vote. Finally, the law requires employers to conspicuously post a notice in the work place setting forth these provisions of the Election Law at least ten (10) days before the election. This notice can be found on the New York Board of Elections website (NY Board Of Elections). Therefore, starting Monday October 26th, employers should anticipate receiving notices from their employees that they need time off to vote on Election Day. By that date, these employers must have posted the above-referenced notice.
Get out and vote!