Must an Employer Give Employees Time Off to Vote?

With Election Day around the corner, this is a question on many employers’ minds.  Under the Voting Leave Law, found in Section 3-110 of New York’s Election Law, an employer must grant an employee paid time off if the employee does not have “sufficient time” to vote outside of his or her working hours.

What is “sufficient time” to vote?  Sufficient time is defined as four consecutive hours, either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift, or between the end of the employee’s shift and the closing of the polls.  For general elections, including the upcoming election to be held November 6th, most polling locations are open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

  • Example 1: Employee works from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, leaving a four-hour window, between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm to visit the polls.  This employee has sufficient time to vote and is not entitled to paid leave.
  • Example 2: Employee works from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.  Employee does not have a four-hour window before the start of his shift or after the end of his shift to vote.  Employee does not have sufficient time to vote and is entitled to paid time off in order to do so. 

How much voting leave is an employer required to give to an employee?  If an employee does not have sufficient time to vote, the employer may provide leave at either the beginning or end of the employee’s shift. The total amount of leave will vary based on how much leave is necessary to give the employee sufficient time to vote. The amount of paid leave required is capped at two hours.

  • Example 3: Employee works 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.  Employer may be required to give the employee a half-hour of paid leave at the end of his shift to provide sufficient time (a four-hour time block) to vote.
  • Example 4: Employee works 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Employer may be required to give employee one hour of paid leave at the beginning of her shift to provide sufficient time to vote.  

Is the time paid?  If an employer is required to provide voting leave, it must be paid, up to a maximum of two hours.

What are the responsibilities of the employee and the employer leading up to Election Day? The employee is responsible for notifying the employer no more than 10 and no less than 2 working days before the election if they will be taking time off for voting. The employer has the responsibility of displaying a New York State Voting Leave Law notice. Employers must display the notice in a conspicuous place no less than 10 working days before the election and it must remain posted until the polls close. For employers operating on a standard 5-day workweek schedule, the notice must be posted by October 23rd.

If you have any questions regarding this article or would like more information on New York State’s Voting Leave Law, please contact any one of our employment and labor attorneys.  

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