Voting Leave: Are Employers Required to Grant Employees Time Off to Cast Their Ballots?

October 29, 2014
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Election Day is Tuesday, November 4, 2014. While most employees are able to cast their ballots outside of their working hours, some may need to take time off to vote. State law dictates whether employers need to provide employees time off to vote. While 32 states have regulations in place, the requirements differ widely, particularly with regard to whether the leave must be paid or unpaid. Therefore, it is imperative to consult with local counsel. For New Jersey businesses, you are off the hook. The Garden State is one of the few states that do not have voting leave laws. However, employers are free to establish their own policies. In New York, employers must provide paid leave for voting. Pursuant to New York State Law § 3-110:
  • If workers do not have sufficient time outside of their working hours to vote, employers must provide up to two hours of paid leave at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift to allow time to vote.
  • “Sufficient time” is defined as four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the working shift or between the end of the working shift and the closing of the polls.
  • In order to take time off, employees must request the leave between 2 and 10 days before Election Day.
Lastly, while employers can facilitate the voting process by providing time off, they must also be mindful not to influence workers to vote or not vote or to vote for any particular candidate, which will run afoul of state laws in both New York and New Jersey. If you have questions about voter leave laws or would like to discuss your company’s employee policies, please contact me or the Scarinci Hollenbeck Labor and Employment attorney with whom you work.