Election Day is quickly approaching, and many voters are having to make special considerations this year regarding how and when to cast their ballot. Employees working in New York may find some relief from the state’s newly amended Election Law, which grants some employees the right to paid time off to go vote.
The amended Election Law puts New York in the company of twenty-nine other states who also provide either paid or unpaid time off to workers to vote. New York’s neighboring states, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are a few of the remaining twenty states that do not provide any type of time off for employees to vote during working hours.
Generally, New York’s Election Law grants employees up to two hours of paid time off to vote if they do not have “sufficient time to vote” outside of working hours. (New York’s previous law provided up to three hours of paid time off.) The term “sufficient time to vote” is defined as an employee having four or more consecutive hours outside of their work shift where they could go to the polls. Note that the amount of paid time you will be eligible for is determined on a case-by-case basis and may be less than two hours.
For example, New York State’s Board of Elections’ guidance explains, that an employee would be eligible for paid time off if they have a work shift from 9 AM to 6 PM and the polls are only open from 6 AM to 9 PM because there is no consecutive four hour window when the employee could go vote. However, if the employee works a shift from 9 AM to 5 PM, then the employee is not eligible for the paid time off because there is a four-hour window for the employee to vote outside of working hours.
If you qualify for paid time off under the Election Law, you must give your employer a minimum notice of two working days prior to the day you plan to go vote. However, your notice to your employer must not be more than ten days prior to the day you plan to go to the polls. It is also important to note that your employer cannot require you to take any form of earned leave to vote, if you are eligible for paid time off under the state’s Election Law.
To check the hours and location of your polling place, visit New York State’s Board of Elections’ website. Early voting in New York begins on October 24, 2020 and concludes on November 1, 2020. Polls will also be open from 6 AM to 9 PM on General Election Day on November 3, 2020.