As we previously reported, last year, New York State expanded its election leave law to allow employees more paid time off if needed in order to vote on Election Day (increasing the paid time off from two to three hours). However, in the State’s 2020-21 budget, signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on April 3, 2020, new amendments to New York’s Election Leave Law (Election Law § 3-110) (the “Law”) undo the changes implemented by last year’s legislation and essentially reinstates the prior time-off rules, which provide that if an employee is a registered voter without “sufficient time” outside of scheduled working hours to vote in an election, the employee may take up to two hours of paid time off from work. The Law went into effect immediately.

Notably, the Law also reinstates the presumption that existed in the original election leave law that employees will be considered to have “sufficient time” outside of their work hours to vote if they have four consecutive hours between the polls opening and the beginning of their working shift, or four consecutive hours between the end of their shift and polls closing. Employees who do not have four consecutive hours within either of those windows will be allowed to take as much time off to vote as necessary, but only two hours of that time will be paid. Employers, however, may still designate that such time be taken at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift.

Further, employees that require time off from work to vote must notify their employer at least two, but no more than 10, working days before the day of the election for which the employee requires leave to vote. To ensure employees are aware of their rights under the Law, employers must post a notice setting forth the provisions of the Law in a conspicuous location, i.e., where it can be seen as employees arrive at or leave the workplace. The notice must be posted not fewer than 10 days before every election, and it must be kept posted until the close of the polls on Election Day.

All New York employers should review their leave policies, employment handbooks, and applicable leave forms to ensure compliance with the new Law.

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