New York State and Washington D.C. have enacted legislation regarding paid time off to vote. The details of these new laws are summarized below.

New York

Nestled into the FY 2020-21 NY state budget is a revision to the statewide time off to vote law, which was revised in April 2019 to increase paid voting time for employees from two to three hours, regardless of whether an employee had sufficient time outside of work to vote.  The budget provision reverts the election law back to its pre-April 2019 version, so now, effective April 3, 2020:

  • Employees are only eligible for voting leave if they do not have four (4) consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their working shift, or between the end of their working shift and the closing of the polls; and
  • Employees who do not have such a 4 hour window are only eligible to take off as much working time as will, when added to their voting time outside working hours, enable the employee to vote, up to two (2) hours of which time must be without loss of pay.

The law also changes the time frame for employees to request paid time off to vote back to its pre-April 2019 version. Now, employees must request time off to vote between two and ten working days before the election. Employers are still required to post a notice regarding the law at least 10 working days before every election.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia enacted the Leave to Vote Amendment Act of 2020 which, once funded by the D.C. government, will grant all D.C. employees paid leave to vote in person.  Upon an employee’s request, an employer will be required to provide the employee at least two hours of paid leave to vote in person in any public election in the District. Employees ineligible to vote in D.C. will also be eligible to receive two hours of paid leave to vote in person in any election run by the jurisdiction in which the employee is eligible to vote.

The new law broadly defines “employee” to include all employees eligible to vote and covers every “employer” (though the law is silent on its extraterritorial application). Employers can require that employees requesting time off to vote provide notice a reasonable length of time in advance, and does not address the amount or form of notice required.  Similar to other paid voting leave laws, the D.C. law will permit employers to specify the hours during which an employee may take voting leave, including taking leave during an early voting period instead of on the actual day of the election.

Employers are prohibited from: (1) deducting from an employee’s salary, wages or accrued leave for paid voting leave; (2) interfering with, restraining or denying any attempt to take paid voting leave; and (3) retaliating against an employee for taking paid voting leave.  In addition, the law will provide students a two-hour excused absence to vote in person.

The law will not go into effect until its fiscal effect is included in an approved budget and financial plan; until then it is considered unfunded and, therefore, not in effect.  Each employer will be required to post a notice in a conspicuous place that includes an easily understood description of the new law, which will be developed by the D.C. Board of Elections. The D.C. Board of Elections will also be issuing regulations interpreting the law.

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We will continue to monitor developments on these bill and provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, employers in New York and D.C. should review their existing voting leave policies to ensure compliance with these new laws.

 

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Photo of Allan Bloom Allan Bloom

Allan S. Bloom is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and advisor who represents management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended a number of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages…

Allan S. Bloom is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and advisor who represents management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended a number of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York TimesReutersBloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters such as executive transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He also has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated and arbitrated cases, including at FINRA and its predecessors, for more than 20 years.
A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He has served as an author, editor and contributor to a number of leading treatises in the field of employment law, including ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA, Senior Editor), Employment Discrimination Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA, Final Proof Editor), Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes (Cornell University/CPR, Editor), The Employment Law Review (Law Business Research, U.S. Chapter Author), and The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual (SCCE, Chapter Author).

Allan is a member of the NYSBA’s House of Delegates, sits on the Executive Committee of the NYSBA’s Labor and Employment Law Section, and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has been recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers since 2011.

Photo of Arielle E. Kobetz Arielle E. Kobetz

Arielle E. Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Counseling & Training Group. Her practice focuses on providing clients with strategies and counseling related to a variety of workplace-related disputes, including employee terminations…

Arielle E. Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Counseling & Training Group. Her practice focuses on providing clients with strategies and counseling related to a variety of workplace-related disputes, including employee terminations and discipline, leave and accommodation requests, and general employee relations matters. She also counsels clients on developing, implementing and enforcing personnel policies and procedures and reviewing and revising employee handbooks under federal, state and local law.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Arielle served as a law clerk at the New York City Human Resources Administration, Employment Law Unit, where she worked on a variety of employment discrimination and internal employee disciplinary issues.