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Can I Take Paid Time Off to Vote During New York State Elections?

July 10th, 2020 Allison Frison

Only about 56% of eligible U.S. citizens voted in the 2016 presidential election. In an effort to increase voter turnout, some states have enacted laws to guarantee workers time off to vote. New York State’s voting leave law allows registered voters who do not have sufficient time outside of scheduled work hours to take up to 2 hours of paid time off to vote in most public elections. Employees are deemed to have “sufficient time to vote” if they have four consecutive hours to vote either from the opening of the polls to the beginning of their work shift, or four consecutive hours between the end of a working shift and the closing of the polls.

How can I request Paid Time Off from my Employer?

Under New York Election Law Section 3-110, employees can claim up to two hours of paid time off in addition to their voting time outside of working hours if they do not have sufficient time to vote. Employees must request time off to vote from their employers between two and ten working days before the election. While two hours is the maximum paid time off allowed under the law, the amount of paid time off required for an employee to vote will be determined on a case-by-case basis as waiting times at polling places, traffic conditions, and other factors may vary. Employers may also designate if employees can take time off at the beginning or end of their shift.

What does the New York State Election Law mean for Employers?

 Employers must post a notice regarding the law at least 10 working days before every election. The notice must be placed in conspicuous places. The law also holds that employers may not require employees to use their “personal” time off to vote. Employers should update their voting leave policies and notices to comply with the new Election Law in order to avoid costly litigation. Employers who bar their employees from voting could also lose their corporate charter.

Check with your Employer’s Time Off Policy

In addition to New York’s legislation, specific employers may have other policies to ensure workers’ time off for voting. For example, over 500 employers have joined the Time to Vote coalition, a nonpartisan organization designed to increase voter turnout in the 2020 election. Companies in the coalition have promised to give workers time off to vote or pledge to have no meetings on election day. Some of these employers include Walmart, Lyft, Uber, and Target. So, check to see if your employer has additional policies regarding time off for voting.

Seek Legal Assistance Today

If your rights have been violated in the workplace, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.