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What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?

Under Kentucky law, it is unlawful for an employer to engage in discriminatory hiring practices, including but not limited to excluding employees or potential employees from applying to a position based on a protected class. In some instances, employers with underrepresented minority groups may be required to publicize vacancies in designated publications. 

Background checks
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?

(a) Criminal records and arrests

Kentucky does not prohibit employers from considering arrests or convictions when making employment decisions. Kentucky employees have federal protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Title VII, “Discrimination Based on Criminal Records and the EEOC’s Guidance related to Criminal Records.” Employers in Kentucky are encouraged to tailor background checks to the specific job duties and responsibilities.

(b) Medical history

Kentucky does not allow any broader review of medical history or medical condition in hiring decisions than would be allowed by either the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(c) Drug screening

Under Kentucky case law, employers may have zero tolerance policies, and drug and alcohol testing is not limited to safety-sensitive employees. However, school bus drivers, mechanics, and other persons in safety-sensitive jobs related to student transportation must submit to controlled substance and alcohol testing as a condition of employment. Moreover, all applicants for certification as new miners and all initial applicants for all other certifications must provide proof that they are drug and alcohol free before certification. Proof can be established by submitting the test results of an employer drug and alcohol test.

(d) Credit checks

When conducting credit checks, employers must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681t). Employers must ensure that such information is job-related before requesting a credit report. Moreover, the employer must seek the individual’s permission, in writing, and must notify the job applicant that the information in the credit report will be used in the hiring process. If the credit report provides information that could disqualify the candidate from further consideration, before disqualifying the applicant from employment, the employer must provide him or her with a copy of the report and a summary of his or her rights. 

(e) Immigration status

All employers are required to verify that newly hired employees are either U.S. citizens or authorized to work in the United States. However, employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their immigration status. An employee’s immigration status should be used only to verify U.S. citizen, authorization to work, and for I-9 purposes.

(f) Social media

It is unlawful to use an employee’s social media as a means to obtain information regarding whether the employee is in a protected class and later discriminate based on that classification. However, employers cannot discourage the use of social media for the promotion of union activity.

(g) Other

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (29 U.S.C. § 2006(e), (f)) prohibits the use of pre-employment polygraphs by employers engaged in interstate commerce, unless the employment involves particular functions, such as security or working with controlled substances. 

Employers can obtain protected written education records, including transcripts, by asking prospective employees to sign forms requesting specific records from educational institutions. Employers without consent can obtain certain student data which Kentucky public schools designate as “student directory information” and release to the general public. Employers cannot obtain directory information when parents or eligible students notify schools that prior written consent is required; in such cases, employers first must obtain consent.

Wage and hour

What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?

Chapters 337 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes and Title 803, Chapter 1 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations.

What is the minimum hourly wage?

The minimum wage in Kentucky is $7.25 per hour—the same as the federal minimum wage.   However, employers should consult with local ordinances for specific minimum wage laws within their county. For example, Louisville-Jefferson County Metro recently passed an ordinance increasing the minimum wage by 50 cents, from $7.25 per hour to $7.75.

Employers must pay an amount higher than the minimum wage for overtime pay and for employees who meet the qualifications of Kentucky’s Day of Rest Statute.

Generally, overtime must be paid for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a working week. Overtime must be at least equal to one-and-a-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay.

Kentucky’s Day of Rest Statute provides that an employer that permits an employee to work seven days in one working week (seven consecutive days or any other period of seven consecutive days adopted by the employer as the working week) must pay the employee time-and-a-half for the time worked on the seventh day.    

What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?

When an employee leaves employment for any reason, the employer must provide the employee with his or her final paycheck by no later than the next regular payday or within 14 days—whichever occurs last.

Kentucky law prohibits an employer from withholding any part of an employee’s wage unless the employer is expressly authorized to do so by local, state, or federal law, or expressly authorized by the employee in writing. Under no circumstances can an employer deduct for the following:

  • fines;
  • cash shortages in a common money till, cash box, or register used by two or more persons;
  • breakage;
  • losses due to an employee’s acceptance of checks that are subsequently dishonored if he or she is given discretion to accept or reject any check; or
  • losses due to defective or faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property, damage to property, default of customer credit, or non-payment for goods or services received by the customer if such losses are not attributable to an employee's willful or intentional disregard of the employer's interest.

Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

Kentucky law requires that an employer provide adult employees with a reasonable period for meals no sooner than the third hour or later than the fifth hour of the employee’s shift, unless the employee and employer have mutually agreed to some other arrangement. A duty-free meal period need not be paid. Minors (i.e., employees under 18 years of age) are required to take a 30-minute break every five hours.

An employer must provide a paid rest period of at least 10 minutes during each four hours that any employee works. 

What are the maximum hour rules?

Generally, no employer can employ employees for a working week longer than 40 hours, unless the employee is paid overtime pay for the excess of 40 hours. Minors, however, are limited in the number of hours they can work.

Minors 14 and 15 years of age enrolled in school or participating in a home schooling program may work only:

  • three hours per day on a school day;
  • eight hours a day on a non-school day; and
  • up to 18 hours total in a week when school is in session.

When school is not in session for the entire school week, they may work eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. Minors 14 and 15 year olds may work between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. However, between June 1 and Labor Day, minors may work as late as 9:00 p.m.

Minors 16 and 17 years old enrolled in school or participating in a home schooling program may work:

  • six hours a day on a school day;
  • eight hours a day on a non-school day; and
  • up to 30 hours total in a school week.

They may work between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. preceding a school day and between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. preceding a non-school day during a school week. 

How should overtime be calculated?

Generally, overtime must be paid for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a working week. Overtime must be at least equal to one-and-a-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay.  

What exemptions are there from overtime?

Kentucky law exempts the following employees from overtime:

  • employees of retail stores whose principal duties are connected with selling, purchasing, and distributing goods;
  • employees of a restaurant, hotel, or motel;
  • employees subject to the secretary of transportation’s authority pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act 1935;
  • employees employed as seafarers;
  • salespersons, parts persons, or mechanics primarily engaged in selling or servicing vehicles or farm implements, if employed by a non-manufacturing establishment primarily engaged in the business of such items;
  • salespersons primarily engaged in selling trailers, boats, or aircraft, if employed by a non-manufacturing establishment primarily in the business of selling such items;
  • drivers employed by an employer engaged in the business of operating taxis;
  • employees whose function is to provide 24-hour residential care on the employer's premises in a parental role to children who are primarily dependent, neglected, and abused and who are in the care of a private non-profit child-caring facility licensed by the Cabinet for Health and Family; or
  • individuals who are employed by a third-party employer or agency other than the family or household using their services to provide in-home companionship services for a sick, convalescing or elderly person.

Record keeping
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

All employers must keep a record of the following employee information for at least one year after entry:

  • amount paid each pay period to each employee;
  • hours worked each day and each week by each employee;
  • social security number;
  • home address;
  • date of birth, if under 18 years old;
  • sex;
  • occupation in which employed;
  • time of day and day of week on which the employee's working week begins;
  • regular rate of pay and total straight-time earnings or wages for all hours worked during the working week;
  • overtime;
  • total additions to or deductions from wages paid each pay period; and
  • total wages paid each pay period and date of payment.

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