As we enter the spring of 2019, employers should review their employee handbook and personnel policies to ensure that they are in compliance with several new laws and amendments which have recently (or will soon) take effect in New York and New York City.

On April 1, 2019, New York State passed an amendment to Election Law § 3-110 eliminating the part of the law that limited time off to employees who did not have sufficient time to vote outside of working hours, and increasing the amount of time off employers must provide employees to vote. Effective immediately, employers must provide all New York employees who are registered voters with up to three hours’ paid time off at the beginning or end of working hours to vote in any election.  Any registered voter seeking time off to vote must notify his or her employer at least two working days before the election.  New York employers must also post notice of this provision in their workplace at least ten work days before any election through the end of voting.

New York City employers will also want to ensure compliance with Local Law 185 and Local Law 186, which went into effect on March 18, 2019, and requires that employers provide employees with lactation accommodations, including a lactation room where employees can pump/express breast milk, and reasonable time to do so.  Employers are required to have a written lactation policy that informs employees about the existence of a lactation room, the process for making lactation-related accommodation requests, and that meets certain requirements under the law.  The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently issued model lactation policies and a model lactation accommodation request form to be used by employees.

Finally, New York City employers should take note of a recent amendment to the NYC Human Rights law that prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s “sexual and reproductive health decisions.”  The amendment defines this new protected category as “any decision by the employee to receive services which are arranged for or offered or provided to individuals relating to the reproductive system and its functions.” Examples of covered services include “fertility-related medical procedures, sexually transmitted disease prevention, testing, and treatment, and family planning services and counseling, such as birth control drugs and supplies, emergency contraception, sterilization procedures, pregnancy testing, and abortion.”  The amendment goes into effect on May 20, 2019, and will require employers to provide written notice to all new employees, as well as to current employees within 120 days.

The foregoing list is just a sampling of the more significant changes, and employers should continue to review the additional laws passed by the legislature both in New York State and those specific to New York City employees as well.