It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important Kentucky statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few Kentucky labor laws every small business owner should know.


First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:


  • Sick Days: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
  • Medical Leave: Employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
  • Vacation Leave: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
    • Employers may establish a contract denying payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation of employment.
    • The contract may also disqualify employees from payment for vacation leave upon separation from employment if they do not follow certain requirements such as giving two weeks notice. 
    • The amount of vacation leave accrued over time may be capped in the policy. 
    • Employers may implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their accrued leave by a certain date. 
  • Jury Duty: Employers are not required to pay an employee for time taken to respond to a jury summons, but they are not allowed to punish the employee in any way.
  • Holiday Leave: Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays. 
  • Voting Leave: Employers are required to provide employees with at least 4 hours of time off to vote and may not penalize them for doing so unless the employee does not vote for reasons that were within their control. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.

Final Paycheck

Employers must pay employees who separate from employment for any reason all final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday or within 14 days of the separation. 

Minimum Wage

  • The current minimum wage in Kentucky is $7.25. 
  • If the federal minimum wage increases, Kentucky’s minimum wage will increase to the same amount. 

Tipped Wages

  • The current minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13. 
  • Employers may not require employees to participate in a tip pooling or sharing agreement. 
    • Employees may voluntarily agree to participate in a tip pooling agreement amongst themselves. 

Child Labor

  • Minors under the age of 16 are subject to the following time restrictions:
    • No working during school hours (except on a farm for a parent or guardian)
    • May work up to 3 hours on school days
    • May work up to 8 hours on non-school days and 40 hours a week when school is out of session. 
    • A maximum of 18 hours per week
    • Not earlier than 7am or later than 7pm
  • Minors 16 and 17 years of age may work no more than 6 hours on school days or 8 hours on non-school days when school is in session. 
    • They may work a maximum of 30 hours a week during the school year.
    • There are no restrictions on the number of hours 16 and 17 year olds may work during the summer. 

Meal and Rest Breaks, Overtime

  • Employers are required to pay employees an overtime rate of one and a half times their regular rate for all hours worked in a workweek in excess of 40, unless the employee is otherwise exempt.
  • Employers are also required to pay employees the same overtime rate for all hours worked on the 7th day when an employee works all 7 days in a workweek. 
  • Employers must provide employees with at least 10 minutes of rest after every 4 hours of work. 
  • Employers must also provide a reasonable meal period after the third hour and before the fifth hour of work unless a mutual agreement has been made. The meal periods do not have to be paid. 

Employment Discrimination

  • The Kentucky Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age forty (40) and over, because the person is a qualified individual with a disability, or because the individual is a smoker or nonsmoker, as long as the person complies with any workplace policy concerning smoking.
  • Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.       


Kentucky is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action. 

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws regarding shift schedules in Kentucky. 

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