Laura Matlow Wong-Pan
Voting Rights during Working Hours
Updated: Nov 7, 2018
With important elections coming up on November 6, 2018, employees should be aware of the rights to exercise their right to vote. New York Election Law was amended in the 1970’s to ensure that employees will not be disenfranchised simply because their working hours prevent them from getting to the polls to cast a ballot.
Up to Two Hours of Paid Leave. Any employee who does not have time to vote before or after work, is entitled to take least two hours of paid leave during the work day. Those who do not have time to vote include employees with fewer than four consecutive non-working hours between the time that polls open (6:00 am) and when they close (9:00 pm).
For instance, employees who work 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, would have fewer than four hours before work, or after work to vote and would normally be entitled to two hours of paid leave.
Advance Notice Requirements. Employees are expected to give at least two days advance notice that he or she needs time off to vote.
Employer’s obligation to post a notice. New York Election Law requires employers to inform employees by posting a notice that describes all of the employees’ rights to vote during working hours. The notice must be in a conspicuous location and posted at least ten working days before the election, and remain posted until the polls close. If there is no notice posting, an employee might have a persuasive argument that two days advance notice is unreasonable.
Penalties for infringing employees’ rights to vote. Any person or corporation who refuses to allow the employee the right to vote, could be guilty of a misdemeanor under Election Law Section 17-118, including imprisonment up to one year, and a fine.
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