As Election Season Ramps up, New York Increases Paid Voting Leave
Most New York employers know about the state's election leave law, but may have never thought much about it since hanging the required poster in the break or copy room. However, new changes passed by the state legislature will require employers to give this law their attention soon, and that poster will need an update.
Under the prior version of N.Y. Election Law 3-110, employees registered to vote had a right to “up to two hours” of paid time off to vote, if the employee did not have "sufficient time" outside of the working hours to make it to the polls. The law designated that "sufficient time" to vote was equivalent to four hours where the employee was not required to work while polls were open.
The law was amended this month as part of the state’s 2019-2020 budget, and immediately went into effect. The amendment increases employees' right to paid voting leave from two hours to three hours, and also eliminates the previous requirement that an employee be given paid leave only if he/she did not have "sufficient time" to vote outside of their scheduled working hours. Under the new law the only constraint on employees' right to take paid voting leave is that the leave may only be taken at the beginning or end of the employees’ shift. Notably, the right to paid voting leave applies to "any election."
Employers should be conscious of this significant change in the law, and make sure to update their posted notices and handbooks at least no less than “ten working days” before any election. The best practice, of course, would be to make these updates immediately, as “any election” could be interpreted broadly. On April 19, 2019 the New York State Board of Elections published a revised notice incorporating the law’s amendment, which is available here.