Giving Employees Time Off to Vote on Election Day

Posted on July 19, 2016 in Employee Issues

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Election Day is just around the corner, and I have to confess–I get a little misty when I enter the election booth and pull the thick curtains closed behind me. In so few countries around the world do people get to vote without coercion or fear of reprisal on who will lead their government. Whatever I may think about the current candidates for president (even if it’s “the lesser of two evils”), I do have a choice.  For the many freedoms we enjoy, we have the responsibility to participate in voting.  Not such a bad trade-off.

New York City employment attorney Deborah Shapiro reminded me that New York has laws on the books that require employers to give their employees “sufficient” time off to vote.  “Sufficient time” is deemed to be four consecutive hours.

Employees are entitled to voting leave if:

1. They are registered voters; and

2. They do not have at least four consecutive hours in which to vote, either between the time the polls open and the start of their work day or between the end of their work day and the time the polls close.

These employees are entitled to take up to two hours of paid leave. They also may take an additional two hours of unpaid leave, if necessary, to have four consecutive hours off while the polls are open (but employees who are exempt from overtime laws must not be docked for this time).

If employees wish to take voting leave, they must provide you with notice at least two days, but not more than 10 days, before Election Day. You are permitted to designate whether an employee takes his/her voting leave at the start or the end of the workday.

Different states’ laws may vary, so check with your attorney to see what the requirements are.

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