New Election Day laws: more time off for employees, more stress for employers

Posted at 5:36 PM, May 07, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New election laws signed in by Governor Andrew Cuomo were meant to make things easier for the working voter, said Erie County democratic elections commissioner Jeremy Zellner.

But, some employers in the area are worried about their staffing and payroll capabilities.

The old laws made it so employers had to give two hours paid time off to their workers in order to vote, but only if the employee did not have a 4-hour period of time outside of their shift to get to the polls.

The new laws allow for three hours PTO on primary and general election days, and eliminate the “four-hour rule”.

The law that was passed along with the state budget this year also states that employees don’t have to give a reason for leaving, and employers have no rights to deny the PTO accommodation on Election Day.

Commissioner Zellner said this is where common sense comes into play - employees cannot just show up on Election Day and say they are leaving for three hours to vote.

The law says employers must post notice of the new provisions 10 days ahead of an Election Day, and employees need to give at least two business days notice.

“We’re hoping some common sense prevails here, and people understand we are not trying to give them time off, but allow them to go out and vote,” he said.