Seyfarth Synopsis: A recent amendment to New York’s Election Law now provides employees up to three hours paid time off to vote. With the Primary Election just weeks away, employers need to ensure their policies and practices comply with these new requirements.

On April 1, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the highlights of the New York State budget for fiscal year 2020. The announcement included an amendment to Section 3-110 of the New York State Election Law, providing registered voters up to three hours of paid time off to vote on any election day.

The Prior Law on Time Off for Voting

The prior law required employers to provide “sufficient time” outside of an employee’s working hours for that employee to go vote in any election. An employee was deemed to have “sufficient time” to vote if he or she had four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the start of the employee’s shift, or between the end of the employee’s shift and the closing of the polls. Employees with less than four consecutive hours before or after their shift could take up to two hours off without losing pay to vote.

Changes to the Law

The amendment to Section 3-110, found here, eliminates the “sufficient time” requirement. Instead, employees may now take up to three hours off in order to vote in any election without losing pay. An employer can designate whether the time off occurs at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift. Additionally, the employee must notify his or her employer no less than two working days before the election that he or she needs time off to vote. Finally, employers must post a notice conspicuously in the workplace setting forth the provisions of Section 3-110 at least 10 working days before an election.

Employer Takeaways

With the Primary Election on June 25, 2019, employers must ensure notices are posted conspicuously in the workplace by no later than June 11, 2019 (if the business is closed on weekends) or June 15, 2019 (if weekends are included as working days). Employers may use the New York State Board of Elections’ updated model notice, available here. Additionally, employers should review their policies and procedures, including employee handbooks, to ensure compliance with the amended law.