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New York Extends Employee Paid Time Off Voting Benefit

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed into law an amendment to § 3-110 of the New York Election Law that extends the obligations of employers to provide employees with paid time off to vote in elections. Prior to the amendment, employers were required to provide employees with two hours of paid time off to vote, but only if the employees did not have four or more consecutive hours off between the time when the polls opened and they began their shift, or between the end of their shift and the closing of the polls. Under the amendment, employees may now take up to three hours of paid time off to vote. The amendment also removed the prior requirement that employees not have at least four hours to vote before or after their shift in order to be entitled to paid time off. As a result, an employee’s right to paid time off to vote is no longer restricted by the amount of time the employee has to vote outside of his or her shift. However, the amendment allows employers to require employees to take time off to vote at either the beginning or end of an employee’s shift. Employees must be registered voters to be entitled to time off and must provide at least two days’ notice of their need for time off to vote.

The law applies to all federal, state, county, city, town and village elections. The law does not address whether proof of voting can be required or whether employers can charge paid voting time off to an employee’s other paid time off entitlements, such as personal time.

Employers should also remember that the law requires employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the law at least 10 working days before every election. The notice must remain posted until the polls close. The New York State Board of Elections has issued a poster for this purpose, which can be obtained here.

Employers should update their voting policies to comply with the law’s new time-off requirements and post the required poster at least 10 days before all elections.

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