In addition to any leave your employer provides for vacation, sick leave, personal days, or personal time off (PTO), you might have a legal right to take time off work for specific reasons under federal and Kentucky laws. For example, if you are caring for a new child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition, you may have a right to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Kentucky law provides additional leave rights, including the right to time off for military service, jury duty, and more.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member (parent, child, or spouse), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, or to handle certain urgent matters relating to a family member’s military service. Under the FMLA, employers must also give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffers or exacerbates a serious illness or injury while serving in the military. (For purposes of this part of the law only, employees may take leave to care for a broader set of family members, including siblings, grandparents, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
The FMLA applies to employers in all states with 50 or more employees. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking time off. (Find out more at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some states have laws that provide employees with additional rights. In Kentucky, all employers are required to provide employees with leave for the placement of an adoptive child under the age of seven. Employees may take a reasonable amount of time off, up to six weeks, for this purpose. All employees are eligible for adoption leave.
The Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), another federal law, gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. These employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service. USERRA also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their military service. (Find out all about USERRA in Taking Military Leave.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military (such as the militia) or are called to state active duty. In Kentucky, employees who are members of the state national guard are entitled to take time off for training or active duty. Employees must be returned to their former positions, with the same benefits and seniority, when they return from duty.
Employers may not discriminate against employees because they are members of the national guard or militia, nor may they threaten employees for enlisting in the military.
Kentucky law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibilities of serving on a jury. Employers may not threaten or coerce employees because they have received a jury summons.
Leave to serve on a jury is unpaid. However, under federal law, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee’s pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. (For more information, see our article on pay docking.)
Kentucky also requires employers to give employees a reasonable amount of unpaid time off, up to four hours, to cast their ballots in an election. The employer may decide when these hours are taken. Employees must request the time off at least one day in advance. Employees who request, but do not actually use, this time off to vote may be subject to discipline.