Other Leaves: Kentucky
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Emily N. Litzinger, Fisher Phillips
- There are various types of leave that may be available to an employee in Kentucky. See Leaves of Absence.
- Kentucky does not have a state family and medical leave law applicable to private employers. See Family and Medical Leave.
- A Kentucky employer with 15 or more employees may be required to provide leave as an accommodation for childbirth. See Pregnancy Leave.
- Kentucky does require that employers allow newly adoptive parents to take up to six weeks of personal leave to receive an adopted child. See Adoption Leave.
- An employer may not terminate an employee for responding to a subpoena to appear in local, state or federal court. See Witness Duty Leave.
- All Kentucky employers must allow up to four hours of leave for employees to vote. See Voting Leave.
- An employee selected to be an election officer must be given an entire day to attend training or serve as an election officer. See Election Official Leave.
- An employer must allow emergency personnel leave for time spent providing emergency services. See Emergency Responder Leave.
Leaves of Absence
There are various types of leave that may be available to an employee in Kentucky. To the extent that applicable federal, state or local laws conflict, an employer should apply the provisions that provide the greatest benefits and protections to the employee.
An employer should remain alert to the various types of leave available and take care to track employees' leaves of absence, including:
- The date the leave begins;
- The type of leave; and
- The expected return date.
An employee who exercises leave rights is not protected from discipline for legitimate reasons that are unrelated to the leave and that are not otherwise prohibited by law.
If an employer must discipline an employee who has exercised his or her leave rights, it should carefully document the reasons for the discipline, review past application of the rule (to ensure the policy is being enforced evenhandedly), and consider whether to seek the advice of counsel before imposing the discipline.
Family and Medical Leave
Kentucky does not have a state family and medical leave law applicable to private employers. However, a Kentucky employer with 50 or more employees is likely required to adhere to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act requires an employer with 15 or more employees in the state to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee's own limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions (including, but not limited to, lactation). A reasonable accommodation may include time off to recover from childbirth. An employee may not be required to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided. For more information, see Disabilities (ADA): Kentucky.
Upon written request, a Kentucky employers must provide leave so an employee can receive an adoptive child under the age of seven. Such leave must be for a reasonable period, not to exceed six weeks. For more information on adoption leave, see FMLA: Kentucky.
Jury Duty Leave
Kentucky law requires that an employer allow employees to take an unpaid leave of absence to serve as jurors. For more information on jury duty leave, see Jury Duty: Kentucky.
Witness Duty Leave
An employer may not terminate an employee for responding to a subpoena to appear in local, state or federal court. The employee must provide advance notice and a copy of the court certificate to his or her employer.
If an employer violates this law, it may be liable for:
- Back pay;
- Court costs; and
- Attorney fees.
An employer should consider including a witness duty leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of witness duty leave and to show its compliance with Kentucky law.
All Kentucky employers must allow employees a reasonable amount of leave (not less than four hours of leave) to vote or to apply for or execute an absentee ballot. An employer may specify the hour(s) that employees can take to vote and can require that an employee apply for leave before Election Day.
An employer may not:
- Penalize or subject an employee to any disciplinary action because the employee exercises his or her right to vote, unless the employee fails to vote and circumstances did not prevent the employee from voting;
- Fire an employee for exercising his or her right to vote;
- Attempt to coerce, influence or direct an employee to vote for a particular party, candidate, platform, principle or issue through bribes, promises or favors;
- Threaten to fire an employee if he or she votes for a particular candidate; or
- Circulate any document that reports an employee is expected to vote for a particular candidate or measure.
While an employer is not required to pay an employee for taking time off to vote, an employer needs to be careful here since the law requires that employers do not penalize an employee for taking the time off. +KRS § 118.035.
An employer should consider including a voting leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of voting leave and to show its compliance with Kentucky law.
Election Official Leave
An employee selected to be an election officer must be given an entire day to attend training or serve as an election officer. An employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent.
An employer may not penalize, fire or threaten to fire an employee for taking off on election day to exercise the right to serve as an election officer. +KRS § 118.035.
An employer should consider including an election official leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of election official leave and to show its compliance with Kentucky law.
An employer must provide an unpaid leave of absence to members of the National Guard of Kentucky or any other state who are required to perform active military duty or training. For more information on military leave, see USERRA: Kentucky.
Emergency Responder Leave
An employer may not terminate an employee who is a volunteer firefighter, rescue squad member, emergency medical technician, peace officer or members of an emergency management agency because the employee is absent or late because they were responding to emergencies prior to the time they were supposed to report to work.
An employer may request an employee to submit a written statement from the supervisor or director of the emergency services stating that the employee was responding to an emergency and listing the time and date of the emergency. An employer may also charge such time against the employee's regular pay.
No employer can terminate an employee who is a volunteer firefighter, rescue squad member,emergency medical technician, peace officer or member of an emergency management agency because they are absent for a period of 12 months or less due to injuries incurred in the line of duty. An employer may request an employee submit written statements about when the injury occurred. Such statements can be provided from any of the following, assuming the employee was under their command at the time of the injury:
- The employee's supervisor or acting supervisor;
- Director of the volunteer fire department;
- Director of the rescue squad;
- Director of the emergency medical services agency;
- Director of the law enforcement agency; or
- Director of the emergency management agency.
An employer should consider including an emergency responder leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of emergency responder leave and to show its compliance with Kentucky law.
Employers should be aware that certain leaves are protected by state law and therefore it should train its supervisory employees not to take action against an employee because he or she took leave or indicated that he or she may take the leave in the near future. See Training and Development: Federal.
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