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Bills to Watch: Kentucky Employment Law Edition

In a change from recent legislative sessions, labor and employment legislation has been a hot topic this year in Frankfort. From paid family leave to “ban the box” initiatives concerning an applicant's criminal history to major expansions of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, the General Assembly has introduced multiple pieces of legislation in this space. While many of these initiatives are unlikely to advance, other, more employer-friendly bills have gained significant traction in the state legislature. Here are the ones likely to see final passage that employers in the commonwealth should be mindful of as they progress through the legislative process. 

House Bill 320

The first bill employers should be watching is House Bill 320, which, if enacted, would impose a statute of limitations of three years on claims under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (i.e., claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate, etc.). This change would significantly shave down the limitations period for an individual to bring such claims, reducing it from the current five-year limitations period. The bill has passed in the House of Representatives and is currently before the state Senate.

House Bill 255

Next up is House Bill 255, which would significantly amend Kentucky's current child labor laws to peel back additional restrictions imposed under state law and to default to the current standards imposed by federal law. The bill has seen recent amendments to its current text, but is also likely to pass, having sailed through the House of Representatives and being received by the Senate. 

House Bill 500

The final noteworthy piece of pending legislation is House Bill 500, an omnibus piece of legislation that significantly amends the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act. If passed, the bill would: 

  • Remove requirements that employers provide meal and rest break periods
  • Remove Kentucky's “seventh-day” overtime requirement, currently requiring employers to provide overtime pay to any employee who works seven days in a row 
  • Redefine compensable time under the act to remove time spent traveling to and from job sites, preparing to work, and donning and doffing work clothing and equipment 
  • Reduce the statute of limitations period under the act to three years from the current five-year period  

The bill has been received favorably in the House and should be teed up for a vote in the coming weeks. 

While Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is likely to oppose these dramatic changes put forth by the Republican-held General Assembly, any veto is likely to be cast aside by the override power of the current Republican supermajority. With a budget passed, and the end of session rapidly approaching, these significant employment law changes will likely be here before we know it.   


labor and employment