Though the business community might not have had a vote in it, New York legislators have amended the State’s election laws to provide employees with an additional hour of paid time off to vote on election days.

Until recently, New York law required employers to provide workers with up to two hours of paid time off to vote. A convoluted scheme, however – hinging, in large part, on the employee’s specific election day work schedule – governed whether and to what extent employees were entitled to take such time off. Under the new, more streamlined law, employees may take up to three hours of paid time off to vote – a one-hour bump – regardless of their work schedule (although the employer may designate that the time be taken at the beginning or end of a shift).

As with the prior iteration of the election law, employees must submit all voting-related requests at least two working days prior to the election. The new law, however, eliminates the requirement that such requests be made no more than 10 days prior to the election. Finally, the new law preserves the existing requirement that, no less than 10 working days before every election, Empire State employers conspicuously post, in a place where it can be seen by employees, a notice setting forth the workplace-related voting laws. The notice must remain posted until the polls close on election day.

Perhaps the most practical significance of the new law is that it will require most, if not all, New York State employers to update the voting leave section of their employee handbooks/manuals/policies. Given that the law took effect on April 12, 2019, employers should contact one of Reed Smith’s experienced Labor and Employment Group immediately, to discuss the new law and its implications.