Part of the New York State 2020–21 budget largely rolls back the 2019 amendment to the state’s election leave law
The law now provides that a registered voter who does not have sufficient time to vote due to work obligations may take up to two hours off work without loss of pay to vote in any election
The law defines “sufficient time” to vote as four consecutive hours between either the opening of polls and the start of a work shift or the end of a work shift and the closing of polls
The allowed time off for voting is only at the beginning or end of the employee’s working shift, as the employer may designate, unless otherwise mutually agreed
As part of New York State’s 2020–21 budget, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation which largely reverts the election leave law back to its original state (with some exceptions), prior to the amendments passed in 2019. The 2019 amendments were criticized by many for providing election leave entitlements to all employees, including those that seemingly had enough time to vote outside of work.
Employee Time Allowance
The law now provides that if an employee that is a registered voter does not have sufficient time outside of scheduled working hours within which to vote on any day at which the employee may vote, at any election, the employee may, without loss of pay for up to two hours, take off so much working time as will, when added to the employee’s voting time outside the employee’s working hours, enable the employee to vote.
The law further clarifies that if an employee has four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s working shift, or between the end of the employee’s working shift and the closing of the polls, the employee shall be deemed to have sufficient time outside the employee’s working hours within which to vote. Alternately, if the employee has less than four consecutive hours the employee may take off so much working time as will, when added to the employee’s voting time outside the employee’s working hours enable the employee to vote, but not more than two hours of which shall be without loss of pay.
Employees that require working time off to vote must notify the employer not more than 10 nor less than two working days before the day of the election that the employee requires time off to vote. Employees that fail to provide such notice may presumably be denied paid leave.
Additional Employer Requirements and Open Questions
Employers must also post a notice setting forth the provisions of the law conspicuously in the place of work where it can be seen as employees come or go. The notice must be put up not fewer than 10 days before every election, and be kept posted until the close of the polls on Election Day.
The amended law does not provide clarity on what, if any, verifications employers may request from employees to ensure that any leave time taken was indeed to vote. The amended law also ignores that early voting is now available in certain New York elections.
The amendment to the law is effect immediately. New York employers are advised to amend their policies, employment handbooks, and applicable leave forms, for consistency with the new version of the election leave law.
If you have any questions about this law or how it may affect your business, please contact:
- Christopher P. Maugans
- Kristin Klein Wheaton
- Caroline J. Berdzik
- Peter J. Woo
- Or another member of our Employment and Labor practice