This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Kentucky.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Kentucky.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
No federal or state laws in the USA require employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time in Kentucky.
Employers are free to decide whether or not to offer vacation time as a benefit, but if promised in an employee’s contract, they are obliged to follow whatever is stated in the contract or company policy.
Use It or Lose It policies are not mentioned in Kentucky leave laws, and thus are free to be enforced in Kentucky businesses.
Use It or Lose It leave policies mean that any leave not used at the end of the year is forfeited, and not carried over to the following year. Learn more about Use It or Lose It policies here.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that PTO is not required to be paid out upon separation (e.g. when an employee quits, is fired or is laid off).
The court stated the following:
Kentucky employers are not required to provide paid sick leave for employees.
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Kentucky must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following official state holidays are observed in Kentucky:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr Day|
|One-half day, 2 days before Easter||Good Friday|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving|
|Day after Thanksgiving||Thanksgiving Friday|
|December 24||Christmas Eve|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
|December 31||New Year’s Eve|
There is no requirement to allow employees a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays, and employees required to work on state holidays are not legally entitled to extra compensation (such as higher pay or a compensatory day off), unless promised in their employment contract.
Maternity leave is not required by law in Kentucky.
The FMLA does apply to eligible employees, however, entitling new mothers to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child, as well as the placement of a new adoption or foster.
Paternity leave is not covered by law either, but fathers have the same right to unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 12 weeks for the birth of their child, or a new adoption or fostered child.
Kentucky does have an adoption leave law, which entitles parents adopting a child under the age of 10 to “reasonable personal leave” of at least six weeks.
The law also states that if a business provides benefits to birth parents (such as maternity/paternity leave), the same benefits must apply to adoptive parents.
There is no legal requirement to provide bereavement leave in Kentucky. It’s up to the employer’s discretion whether to offer bereavement leave, and whether it is paid or unpaid.
Employers are not required to provide paid leave for jury duty, however they must allow employees to serve a jury summons without being discharged, disciplined, coerced or threatened.
Employees in Kentucky must be allowed at least four hours of unpaid leave in order to vote, between opening and closing of the polls.
Members of the Kentucky National Guard or of any other state are allowed unlimited leave for training or active duty, and the right to return to their prior position (with the same seniority, benefits, pay, status and rights).
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Kentucky, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in Kentucky state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.