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The New York State Election Law has been amended. This amended statute now requires that employers provide employees with three (3) hours of paid time off on the day of an election to vote. The employer can mandate that this time be taken at the beginning or end of the work day, unless otherwise agreed to by the employer. This change does not apply to school district elections but applies to all other federal, state, and local elections and primaries. School District elections are generally governed by the Education Law, and not the Election Law. The Election Law explicitly applies only to federal, state, county, city, town, and village elections. Therefore, the requirement on employers to provide three (3) hours off without loss of pay does not apply to school district elections and budget votes, which typically occur in May. School District elections are generally governed by the Education Law, and not the Election Law. The Election Law explicitly applies only to federal, state, county, city, town, and village elections. Therefore, the requirement on employers to provide three (3) hours off without loss of pay does not apply to school district elections and budget votes, which typically occur in May.
Election Law § 3-110 previously required employers to allow employees to take up to two (2) hours of paid time off to vote in an election, but only if the employee did not have a four-hour block within which to vote from the opening of the polls until the start of their workday, or from the end of their workday until the close of the polls. The amendment to Election Law § 3-110 passed as part of the 2019 New York State Budget, and is awaiting signature from Governor Cuomo to become effective though it is expected he will sign it soon, This amendment eliminates the exemption for employees who have sufficient time (four-hour block) to vote before or after work, and increases the amount of time to vote without loss of pay from two (2) hours to three (3) hours.
The new law states that “a registered voter may, without loss of pay for up to three hours, take off so much working time as will enable him or her to vote at any election.” Thus, it no longer matters if the employee has time before or after work to vote. For an employee to avail themselves of this provision for time off without loss of pay, they must be a registered voter and the employee must notify the employer not less than two (2) days prior to the day of the election that he or she requires time off to vote in accordance with the provisions of this section. Any employee who misses time from work on the day of an election who has not requested at least two (2) days prior to have that time off without loss of pay, shall be treated in accordance with the employer’s normal attendance policies.