Kentucky Labor Laws

March 14th 2024

This article covers:

What are Kentucky Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Kentucky Minimum Wage $7.25
Kentucky Overtime Laws 1.5 times rate for over 40 hours/week
($10.88 for minimum wage workers)
Kentucky Break Laws Meal breaks (at least 20 minutes between the 3rd and 5th hour of the shift) and rest breaks (10 minutes after 4 hours of work)
Lunch break for minors (30 minutes per 5 hours of work)

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Kentucky?

When hiring and selecting employees in Kentucky, it’s important to note that employers cannot make decisions based on certain factors. It’s against anti-discrimination laws to discriminate based on categories such as:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Gender-related identity
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic information (including family medical history)
  • Physical/mental disability
  • Child/spousal support withholding
  • Military or veteran status
  • HIV/AIDS status
  • Off-duty tobacco use
  • Occupational pneumoconiosis without respiratory impairment

As an employee, if you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly due to discrimination, you have the right to file a complaint. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act is in place to prevent discrimination, so it’s important to report any such incidents. Additionally, there’s an online inquiry form available that can help you determine if your complaint falls under this category.

Like many other states in the US, Kentucky has an “employment-at-will” policy, meaning employers can terminate an employee at any time, and employees can leave a job for any reason without legal repercussions. Kentucky law requires that employers provide a final paycheck to employees whose employment has been terminated, including all wages and benefits owed. The final paycheck must be issued on the next scheduled payday or within two weeks of separation.

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Kentucky?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Kentucky that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • OSHA Laws – Both federal and state Kentucky laws require a safe working environment for employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was passed in 1970 to regulate occupational safety on a federal level. The OSHA mandates that employers must continually inspect and improve safety conditions in the workplace, with the ultimate goal of reducing the chances of injuries, illnesses, and deaths. To ensure proper workplace health and safety conditions, employers must offer training and education to new and existing employees, conduct regular safety demonstrations, and ensure that their premises are free of any recognized hazards that may cause harm. In Kentucky, the Division of Compliance is responsible for enforcing Occupational Safety and Health Standards in workplaces. In the event that an employee notices any health or safety hazards in their workplace, they should file a complaint with the Division.
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws – The purpose of these laws is to ensure that employees are able to exercise their legal rights without facing negative consequences. These laws protect whistleblowers, employees who know about illegal or hazardous practices at work, so that they can report these issues without fear of losing their job. Employees cannot be discriminated against or treated differently for exercising their First Amendment rights, reporting illegal behavior, opposing discrimination in the workplace, exercising OSHA rights, or participating in investigations of discrimination.
  • Background Check Laws – Employers have the option to conduct background checks, but they must abide by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act‘s regulations regarding the collection, accuracy, and distribution of information. It’s important for all employers to ensure they are complying with these requirements. Certain positions in Kentucky, such as school personnel, public college and university personnel, personal services agency personnel, long-term care facilities personnel (if owned, managed, or operated by the Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental, and Intellectual Disabilities), and childcare center personnel (with direct contact with minors), require background checks.
  • COBRA Laws – The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a federal law, allows employees to maintain their health insurance and benefits after leaving their job. It applies to employers with 20 or more employees but some states have “mini-COBRA” laws that extend coverage to small businesses with less than 20 employees. In Kentucky, for example, mini-COBRA provides 18 months of continuation coverage. However, employees terminated due to gross negligence or misconduct are not eligible for this coverage.
  • Pregnancy Accommodation Laws – Employers are required by the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act to provide fair and adequate working conditions for pregnant employees, which include things like scheduling changes, assistance with manual labor, and more. This regulation applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Additionally, employers must provide appropriate accommodations for breastfeeding employees in the workplace.
  • Employee Monitoring Laws – In Kentucky, employers are not allowed to use electronic surveillance devices to monitor their employees in personal areas like restrooms and changing rooms. Additionally, state law regulates listening devices and prohibits employers from using them to listen in on, amplify, record, or transmit communications without signed consent from at least one party.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – If you’re an employer operating in Kentucky, you need to adhere to FLSA regulations and maintain employee records for a minimum of three years. Apart from general recordkeeping laws, there are also certain specific situations that require employers to maintain records. These include keeping records of all work-related injuries and illnesses under OSHA for five years, and specifically dangerous instances, such as those involving exposure to toxic substances, for 30 years. It’s important for employers to be aware of these requirements in order to ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal repercussions. Here’s a comprehensive list of the types and categories of information you should include in these records:
    • Full name
    • Social security number
    • Occupation of the employee
    • Date of birth
    • Home address
    • Gender
    • Regular hourly rate of pay
    • Basis on which wages are paid
    • Total daily or weekly net wages and deductions
    • Total gross daily or weekly wages
    • Date of each payment
    • Completed copies of I-9
    • Collective bargaining agreements
    • Sales and purchases
    • All certificates
    • Records of leaves, notices, policies, etc. under FMLA

Kentucky Payment Laws

To start off, let’s take a look at the laws that govern how much employees must be paid. We’ll delve into the details of minimum wage standards, including any exceptions that may apply.

What is the Minimum Payment in Kentucky?

Kentucky follows the federal minimum wage law of $7.25 per hour worked. If the federal minimum wage goes up, Kentucky employees will also see a raise. It’s illegal for employers to pay non-exempt employees less than the minimum wage, but some jobs are exempt, such as tipped positions in the hospitality industry. Tipped employees (servers, bartenders, etc.) in Kentucky earn a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour, but if their tips plus base pay don’t equal at least $7.25 per hour, employers must make up the difference. Employers cannot force tip pooling in Kentucky, but employees may choose to participate.  

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Kentucky?

Here are the categories of employees who may receive lower than the standard minimum wage, grouped accordingly:

  • White Collar Employees:
    • Bona fide executives, administratives, and professionals, provided they earn at least $684 per week.
  • Sales and Computer Employees:
    • Outside salespeople, provided they earn at least $684 per week.
    • IT employees.
  • Specific Industries and Services:
    • Employees working in agriculture.
    • Employees of the US government services.
    • Employees working in domestic service, in or about private homes.
    • Employees working as babysitters in the employer’s home.
    • Employees working as companions to an elderly, sick, or convalescing person.
    • Employees working in newspaper delivery.
    • Employees working in organized non-profit camps, religious, or educational centers, provided they are not open for work more than 7 months in a calendar year.
    • Employees working in a 24-hour residential care facility for dependent, abused, or neglected children.
    • Employees working in non-profit child-caring facilities provided the facility is licensed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
    • Employees working in residential care as a family caregiver to an adult with mental health or intellectual disability, provided they are certified to provide adult foster care by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
    • Employees working in retail stores, hotels, motels, restaurants, and service industries, if either the business earned less than $95,000 for the 5 preceding years, exclusive of excise taxes or the employees are members of the employer’s immediate family.

The subminimum wage refers to the minimum wage paid to employed minors (i.e. individuals under the age of 18) as well as several other categories of employees like those with disabilities, apprentices, trainees, learners, student learners, and student workers. It is worth noting that in Kentucky, subminimum and minimum wages are the same and both are based on the federal minimum wage at $7.25.  

What is the Payment Due Date in Kentucky?

Businesses are required to pay their employees at least twice a month, ensuring compensation is received within 13 days of the pay period ending. There are four methods of payment available: cash, direct deposit, payable checks, and payroll cards. However, employers can only make deductions in certain circumstances and must provide a statement detailing any deductions. Employers cannot withhold pay for lost or stolen property, damage to property, personal fines, cash shortages, losses due to acceptance of bad checks, losses due to defective or faulty workmanship, or customer credit default. Employers can only deduct pay if authorized by law or with written consent from the employee. The law requires fair compensation for all employees, and any issues can be reported to the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims.

What are Kentucky Overtime Laws?

Both federal and Kentucky state laws dictate that any hours worked over 40 hours per week are considered overtime. This is a standard requirement for full-time employees who work Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. Non-exempt employees who earn the minimum wage and work more than 40 hours are entitled to 1.5 times the regular minimum wage of $7.25, which is $10.88 per hour. Kentucky state law also states that if an employee works for 7 consecutive days, the hours worked on the 7th day are considered overtime. However, there are some exceptions to the overtime compensation requirement, which we’ll discuss in the following section.  

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Kentucky?

The state of Kentucky follows the federal overtime rules, which exempt white collar employees from receiving overtime pay. To be exempt, these employees must earn a minimum of $684 per week and fall into one of four categories: administration, executive, professional, or outside sales.

In Kentucky, employees in specific occupations are not eligible for overtime pay, and those are:

  • Agriculturists
  • US government employees
  • Individuals employed in domestic service within a private home
  • Babysitters working in the employer’s home
  • Companions for elderly, sick, or convalescing individuals
  • Newspaper delivery personnel
  • Individuals working in organized non-profit camps, religious, or educational centers (as long as these establishments are operational for no more than 7 months in a calendar year)
  • Employees in a 24-hour residential care facility for dependent, abused, or neglected children
  • Employees in non-profit child-caring facilities (provided the facility is licensed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services)
  • Employees in residential care acting as family caregivers for adults with mental health or intellectual disabilities (provided they are certified to provide adult foster care by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services)
  • Employees in retail stores, hotels, motels, restaurants, and service industries

Learn more in detail about Kentucky Salaried Employees Laws and Kentucky Overtime Laws.

What are Kentucky Time Off/Break Laws?

In Kentucky, it’s mandatory for employers to give their employees a meal break lasting at least 20 minutes if their shift is more than 7.5 hours. Workers must get this break somewhere between their 3rd and 5th hour on the job unless both parties agree on a different arrangement. Employers have the option not to pay their employees for meal breaks.

The state also requires a rest break for employees, which must last at least 10 minutes for every 4 hours of work.

What are Kentucky Breastfeeding Laws?

If you’re a working mom in Kentucky who recently had a baby and is still breastfeeding, you have legal protection when it comes to nursing at work. Federal law mandates that employers in the state offer a designated, private space for breastfeeding employees, and this can be either a paid or unpaid break, depending on your workplace policies. When we say “private”, we mean: the location must be a separate room with a door, not a bathroom stall, to make sure you’re comfortable and undisturbed.

Your employer’s responsibility is to provide this space as close to your work area as possible. And don’t worry if you need additional support or information – each District or Health Department in Kentucky has a Breastfeeding Promotion Coordinator who can give you all the details you need.

What are Kentucky Leave Laws?

Kentucky provides two types of leaves – required and non-required leaves.  

What is Kentucky Required Leave?

The following are the required leave types that Louisiana employers must provide to their employees:

  • Family And Medical Leave – Kentucky employers are required to offer a specific kind of leave, regulated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to their employees. This kind of leave is available to all employees who have worked for at least a year and completed 1,250 work hours. The FMLA provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave to be taken in a one-year period for several reasons, including the care for an employee’s own serious health condition, a family member’s serious health condition, or a newly-born or adopted child. Employers with over 50 workers are required to comply with FMLA regulations. Congress expanded the FMLA in 2008, adding provisions for up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave for employees caring for an Armed Forces member with a serious illness or injury. This leave is available only if the member in question is an employee’s spouse, parent, child, or next of kin.
  • Jury Duty Leave – According to Kentucky law, employers are required to allow employees to take time off work if they have been summoned for jury duty. It’s important to note that employers are also prohibited from punishing or firing employees for fulfilling their civic duty.
  • Voting Time Leave – Kentucky law requires employers to give their employees at least 4 hours of leave time to vote. This leave must be given without any negative consequences to the employee upon their return to work. However, if the employer can show that the employee did not use this leave to vote for reasons they could have controlled, then the employer is allowed to penalize that employee. It’s important for employees to use their voting leave for its intended purpose.
  • Military Leave – As per the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, all American employees have the right to take leave to serve in the US Armed Forces, National Guard, or state militia. They are entitled to the same benefits and pay increases upon return to work. For Kentucky residents who are members of the National Guard, there is a state-specific regulation allowing leave for training or any related activity, in addition to active duty.
  • Emergency Response Leave – If you work in Kentucky and serve as a volunteer firefighter, rescue squad member, ambulance driver, peace officer, or any other emergency response position, you are entitled to time off to respond to emergencies, thanks to state law. Your employer must provide this leave, which they may choose to make paid or unpaid. To prove your eligibility, you may need to provide a letter from your supervisor or institution where you did the emergency work, but your status cannot be punished or disciplined. Additionally, if you are injured while responding to an emergency, your leave can last up to 12 months. It is illegal for your employer to fire you during this time.
  • Witness Leave – According to the law, employers must give their employees who are summoned to court the option of paid or unpaid leave. Employers can’t retaliate against these employees. However, employers can request documentation such as a court or administrative certificate as proof that the employee was indeed summoned to court.
  • Adoption Leave – Employers need to grant up to 6 weeks of leave to their employees who are in the midst of the adoption process. This time allows them to complete the necessary paperwork and attend to any associated tasks related to obtaining custody.

What is Kentucky Non-Required Leave?

The non-required leave types are:

  • Sick Leave – In Kentucky, employers are not obligated to provide paid or unpaid sick leave as per state legislation.
  • Vacation Leave – In Kentucky, employers are not mandated to provide paid vacation leave. However, those who opt to offer this benefit can include it in the employment agreement. The terms and conditions surrounding vacation leave must be outlined in the employment contract.
  • Bereavement Leave – In Kentucky, there is no legal obligation for employers to provide paid or unpaid time off for employees who are mourning the loss of a loved one.
  • Holiday Leave – Kentucky employers are not obligated by law to provide their employees with paid or unpaid leave specifically for holidays or related festivities.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

Learn more in detail about Kentucky leave Laws.

What are Kentucky Child Labor Laws?

Child labor laws are in place to protect those under the age of 18 in Kentucky. These laws aim to prevent the exploitation of minors and prioritize their education. All minors must provide documentation proving their age before being employed, such as a driver’s license or government-issued document. The employment of minors is restricted in terms of maximum work hours, starting times, and certain occupations that may be hazardous. It’s important to note that all minors, regardless of age, are prohibited from working in hazardous positions under federal law. Kentucky has specific child labor laws which should be reviewed for further guidance.  

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Kentucky?

Here you can find the laws that govern working hours for minors:

Age Group Maximum Hours of Work
14 & 15 Up to 3 hours per school day, up to 8 hours per non-school day, up to 18 hours per week, up to 8 hours per day and up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session
16 & 17 Up to 6 hours per school day, up to 8 hours per non-school day, up to 30 hours per week, no restrictions when school is not in session
Night Work Restrictions Prohibited between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. for minors aged 14 and 15, prohibited between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. before a school day for minors aged 16 and 17, prohibited between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. before a non-school day for minors aged 16 and 17
Required Meal Breaks At least 30 minutes per every 5 hours of work for all minors

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Kentucky?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, minors aren’t allowed to work in risky positions. Kentucky state considers certain jobs and tasks to be dangerous and hazardous. Here are some examples of such occupations: working in plants or establishments making or storing explosives, coal mining, logging or sawmill jobs, handling power-driven hoisting equipment (including forklifts), excavating, wrecking or demolishing sites, shipbreaking operations, working in distilleries or other establishments involved in making alcoholic beverages, and any work related to a roof.  

Learn more in detail about Kentucky Child Labor Laws.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.