New York’s election law was amended in the New York State budget this year to grant employees time off to vote without loss of pay. Under the amendment, which became effective in April, all New York employees who are registered to vote may request up to three hours of paid time off to vote, regardless of their work schedules, as long as the request is made at least two working days before the election. New York employers may designate that any requested time be taken at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift. Employers also must post a notice at least ten days in advance of an election to inform employees of the provisions of New York Labor Law § 3-110. The notice must remain posted until the close of the polls on Election Day. Section 3-110 does not set forth any exceptions. The primary election is on June 25, 2019 so this posting would need to go up on June 15. Since that is a Saturday, employers who are only open Mondays through Fridays may want to consider posting on June 14.
At this point, there is little to no guidance issued on this amendment and there are many unanswered questions. For example, it is not clear which elections are covered by “any election,” although school board elections are not covered. Moreover, there may be logistical issues presented if an employer has minimum staffing requirements and a large number of employees request time off to vote. There is nothing in the law to address how an employer should handle the situation. The amendment does not address whether the employer can verify if an employee is a registered voter. Finally, there may be separate considerations in collectively bargained environments.
New York employers are advised to double check their postings and get them up for the primary elections. Also, a leave form could be developed for the time off requests, which must be made two days in advance. If you are an employer with questions about how to implement this new law, please contact: