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New York Budget Legislation Includes an Amendment Reverting Back to the Old Voting Leave Law

The budget legislation signed by Governor Cuomo on April 3 included an amendment to the Election Law that reverts to the pre-2019 law for employee time off to vote.

In April of 2019, the voting leave law was amended to:

  • Increase the number of hours of paid time off to vote from a maximum of two hours to a maximum of three hours;
  • Eliminate the provision stating that paid voting leave is allowed only if the employee does not have enough non-work time to vote;
  • Eliminate the presumption that an employee does not need paid time off to vote if there are at least four consecutive hours before or after the employee's shift when polls are open; and
  • Change the time frame for employees to make the request for paid time off to vote from between two and ten days before the election to just not less than two days before the election.

These amendments seemed to require employers to grant employees paid time off to vote even if those employees had ample time to vote outside of their work hours.

Effective immediately New York’s voting leave law:

  • Permits employees without enough time to vote outside of their scheduled working hours to take up to two hours of paid time off to vote at the beginning or end of their shift;
  • Prohibits the use of the paid voting leave by employees with four consecutive non-working hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their shift or between the end of their shift and the closing of the polls;
  • Requires employees to provide at least two, but no more than ten working days’ notice, prior to the day of the election that they intend to use the leave; and
  • Preserves the requirement that employers conspicuously post a notice of the voting leave law no less than ten working days before the election. The notice must remain posted until the polls close on election day.

While the Presidential primary has been cancelled, New York will hold its congressional and state-level primary on June 23. Due to the ongoing public health issue, the Governor has issued an Executive Order mandating that the NYS Board of Elections automatically mail all registered voters postage-paid applications for an absentee ballot for the upcoming June 23 elections. All New Yorkers will have the option to vote absentee or via in-person polling.

Next Steps

Employers should update their voting leave policy to reflect these changes. The updated policy will also be provided as part of HR Works legal updates for 2021. However, HR Works Virtual Helpline clients who wish to receive the updated policy in advance of the legal updates may contact the Virtual Helpline at hrhelp@hrworks-inc.com to request the updated policy.

Employers are also required to post a Time Off to Vote Notice at least 10 days prior to election day. HR Works has confirmed with the New York Board of Elections that an updated Time Off to Vote Notice will be available soon.

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HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.