6 Legal Considerations for Time Off to Vote in New York State and the State of Pennsylvania

Original Date: November 5, 2018

Voting day is November 6, 2018, for most of us in New York State and the State of Pennsylvania.  Currently, there are 22 states that have laws on paid leave for voting.  As employers, we need to be aware of these laws at the local, city and state levels, to ensure posting requirements and legal time off for employees to vote, if needed.

Current New York State Voting Leave Laws:

  1. “Time Off Allotted: A registered voter who does not have sufficient time outside of his/her working hours to vote, may, without loss of pay for up to two hours, take so much time as will (when added to voting time outside of working hours), enable him/her to vote.
  2. Wages: An employer is required to pay an employee for up to two hours of voting time.
  3. Exception: An employee with four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his/her working shift, or between the end of his/her working shift and the closing of the polls, shall be deemed to have sufficient time outside of his/her working hours within which to vote.
  4. Notice Requirement: An employee must notify his/her employer of the requested absence at least two days, but not more than ten days, prior to the day of the election.
  5. Posting Requirement: At least ten working days before every election, every employer shall post conspicuously a notice setting forth these provisions; such notice shall be posted until the close of polls on Election Day.”[i]

Current State of Pennsylvania Voting Leave Legislation:

  1. “Time Off Allotted: The statute does not provide for any period of leave. It is unlawful for a person to use force, violence, restraint, or to inflict or threaten to inflict injury, damage, harm or loss on a person to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting.”[ii]

burr map

[iii]

Draft Organizational Policy:

“Organization ________believes that it is the responsibility and duty of employees to exercise the privilege of voting in elections. In accordance with this philosophy, the company will grant its employees approved time off to vote if necessary due to work schedules.

Time Off for Voting:

All employees should be able to vote either before or after regularly assigned work hours. However, when this is not possible due to work schedules, managers are authorized to grant a reasonable period of time, up to three hours, during the work day to vote. Time off for voting should be reported and coded appropriately on timekeeping records.”[iv]

Prior to developing any written policy or procedure, ensure that you fully understand local, city and state laws on time off to vote requirements.  The chart above only covers state legislation, it does not include any potential city or local regulations.  Metropolitan areas might have more complex voting leave laws, review local regulations as well.  “About 4 in 10 eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 presidential election…businesses can help solve this problem by making sure that all employees have paid time off to vote.”[v]  Encourage employees to vote, but hold them accountable to the rules and policies of the organization.  Be consistent throughout the workforce and ensure a fair time off process for all employees.  If you are confused, seek guidance.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

[i] https://www.dorsey.com/~/media/files/newsresources/publications/2008/10/employee-time-off-on-election-day-a-statebystate__/files/election-guide/fileattachment/election-guide.pdf

[ii] https://www.dorsey.com/~/media/files/newsresources/publications/2008/10/employee-time-off-on-election-day-a-statebystate__/files/election-guide/fileattachment/election-guide.pdf

[iii] Dorsey and Whitney, LLP

[iv] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/policies/pages/cms_009836.aspx

[v] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/how-to-handle-employee-requests-for-time-off-to-vote.aspx

 

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