What’s old is new again in New York. In non-COVID-19-related news, earlier this month, New York state passed its fiscal year 2020–2021 budget. As part of the budget, New York’s voting leave law, which was amended last year, will revert back to the pre-2019 version of the statute.

By way of background, in April 2019, New York increased paid voting time for employees from two to three hours (regardless of an employee’s work schedule). Legislators also eliminated the then-existing requirement that requests for voting time leave be made no more than 10 working days prior to the election at issue. The recent amendments, however, do away with many of the key 2019 changes.

Effective immediately, therefore, New York’s voting leave law:

  • Permits employees without sufficient 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;
  • Bars use of the paid voting leave by employees with four consecutive nonworking hours (1) between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their shift or (2) between the end of their shift and the closing of the polls;
  • Requires employees to provide at least two – but no more than 10 – working days’ notice, prior to the day of the election for which they intend to use the leave; and
  • Preserves the requirement that employers conspicuously post a notice of the voting leave law no less than 10 working days before the election. The notice must remain posted until the polls close on election day.

Employers should be sure to update the voting leave section of their employee handbooks, manuals, and policies to reflect these changes. Given that these amendments took effect immediately, employers should contact one of Reed Smith’s experienced Labor and Employment Group attorneys immediately with any questions about the implications of the amended law.