The Kentucky Family and Medical Leave Act is designed for just those occasions when family circumstances become overwhelming. It may be because there’s been an accident or serious health problem in the immediate family. Perhaps there’s a birth, or an adoption. Maybe a foster child is coming into the home.
In the season of Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day it’s natural to think about family. It’s also a good time to think again about the Kentucky FMLA law. The Kentucky Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to help you when you need to turn your focus away from work for a while and direct your attention to the needs of your loved ones.
While some states have chosen to create their own, sometimes slightly different, versions of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Kentucky abides by the Kentucky program.
Under the conditions in the Kentucky and Kentucky program, a worker may get up to 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave. But in order to make it happen, both the employer and the employee have certain obligations they must fulfill. For example, the employer is urged to notify an employee immediately regarding leave status and describe exactly how that worker may go about keeping in touch with the workplace to insure the security of the job. The employee, on the other hand, must follow up on the employer’s instructions and abide by deadlines. It’s important to maintain an ongoing relationship with the employer.
Unpaid leave raises complications around medical coverage. Normally, your workplace coverage would be paid for by payroll deductions. But when you’re on unpaid leave, where does that premium money come from? The answer is, your employer is likely to consider it an advance on a future paycheck. When you return, you’ll find the cost of your medical coverage premium appearing as a deduction from your wages. You and your employer should sit down and sign an agreement to avoid misunderstandings that could arise as a result of this legal issue.
If you are a worker, you should be aware of a recent ruling that affects the way you are covered for mental health related conditions. The Mental Health Parity Act, or MHPA has recently been extended through December 31, 2007.
This will have important relevance to Kentucky employee benefit plans.
Originally, the bill was signed into law in 1996 with a “sunset clause that meant that it expired on September 31, 2001. The law has been amended 5 times since that date, to extend the expiration date of the bill.
But what does this mean to most workers?
The Mental Health Parity Act states that mental health must receive the same amount of coverage in group health insurance plans, as medical conditions, including surgery.
It is no longer legal for these amounts to differ, so, if for example, your plan covers you up to $250,000 for medical conditions, but only $15,000 for mental health conditions, this would be illegal.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration is the federal agency that ensures that laws relating to health insurance and pensions are adhered to. It reports that the Mental Health Parity Act will apply to more than 150 million workers in the United States.
If you are one of those workers covered by this law, then it means that you can use the cover for a number of treatments relating to mental health.
This includes admissions to hospital for mental health related conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Schizophrenia, amongst other conditions is also covered, as are visits to a psychologist or another licensed therapist, and psychiatric treatment. Stays in a rehab center are also covered.
However, the Mental Health Parity Act only covers group health insurance plans that cover mental health. It is not a requirement that plans cover this area of health. But if your plan already covers mental health, then it is now a legal requirement that the amount of cover for medical and mental health is equal.
New Kentucky employers, not sure about whether or not you are liable to pay unemployment benefit taxes? Well, the state has provide us here at the blog with a comprehensive, and simple to use, list of who is, and who isn’t, liable to pay unemployment taxes. Here we go:
For for-profit businesses, meaning any company out there looking to make a buck and not labeled a nonprofit by the IRS, the cut off for you is $1500 in gross wages paid out in any calendar quarter. That means if you have paid out $1500 to one or more employees in a three month span, you are liable for unemployment taxes. Or, if you have had at least one worker earning money in 20 weeks out of a year (not necessarily the same worker, or in consecutive weeks), then you are also liable.
For agricultural businesses out there, the liability cut off is a bit different. In that case, you are liable if you have paid out $20000 in gross wages in a single calendar quarter. Or, again, on the other hand, you could be liable to pay unemployment taxes if you have had at least 20 workers getting paid on your pay roll in 20 weeks during the year.
And if you have that nonprofit designation, then you still have to pay some form of unemployment taxation—you don’t get completely off the hook. You become liable if you employ at least four workers during 20 weeks out of the year.
If you are not necessarily a new business, but instead recently bought a business, then the unemployment insurance taxation rules are slightly different as well for you. In general, you become liable as what is called a “successor” employer, which means you have a different tax rate for those employees in that new company.
Thought it might be a good idea to get on here and let you know what I’ve learned about Kentucky’s maternity leave law. I found out most of this info on Kentucky’s Department of Labor web site. Hope it helps for all of you out there wondering what the details are!
Basically, there are no laws in Kentucky guaranteeing job protection or benefits for new parents. Pregnant women and new parents are, however, protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and also by the Family Medical Leave Act.
Both of these laws are federal laws. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal for employers to fire, refuse to hire, or deny a woman a promotion because she’s pregnant. Basically, she must be treated just like anyone else in the company! This goes for sick leave and disability too. If a company offers these things to other employees, then it also must offer them for pregnancy-related issues.
The Family Medical Leave Act allows private or public sector employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to, among other things, take care of a newborn baby or newly adopted child. If you plan to take advantage of this act you have to work for an employer with more than 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.
Be aware that taking some time off after our pregnancy under this act doesn’t guarantee that your job will be held. In fact, a provision under the FLMA, designed to ease economic hardships for companies who are missing key employees, states that it is completely legal for key employees to be terminated during leave. You are considered a key employee if you are in the top 10 percent of highest paid employees.
On an interesting note though, there is one area in which Kentucky has a leave law, aside from the federal law, that applies to employees of companies under 50. It has to do with adoption, and actually it covers all employees in Kentucky. It allows unpaid leave for the adoption of children under the age of 7.
Holiday pay is not required by Kentucky law. The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (federal or otherwise). These benefits are a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).
Employees who work for certain businesses or organizations (or “enterprises”) are covered by the FLSA. These enterprises, which must have at least two employees, include those that do at least $500,000 a year in business; and any hospitals, businesses providing medical or nursing care for residents, schools and preschools, and government agencies.
Even when there is no enterprise coverage, some employees are protected by the FLSA. If any employee’s work regularly involves them in commerce between States (“interstate commerce”), the law covers individual workers who are “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” Some examples would be employees who produce goods (such as a worker assembling components in a factory or a secretary typing letters in an office) that will be sent out of state, those who regularly make telephone calls to persons located in other States, those who handle records of interstate transactions, those who travel to other States on their jobs, and those who do janitorial work in buildings where goods are produced for shipment outside the State. (Domestic service workers such as housekeepers, full-time babysitters, and cooks are normally covered by the law.)
When an employer chooses to pay for holidays not worked, unless specified otherwise, if an employee performs any work during the workweek in which a named holiday occurs, they are entitled to the holiday benefit, regardless of whether the holiday falls on a Sunday, another day during the workweek on which the employee is not normally scheduled to work, or on the employee’s day off.
If employers choose to pay for holidays, they must pay full-time employee their full days’ pay up to 8 hours unless a different standard is used, such as one reflecting collectively bargaining. In the case of termination (voluntary or involuntary), any payment for unused vacation depends on the policy or past practice of the employer, as Kentucky does not specifically require that an employer pay an employee for unused vacation upon termination of employment. As for holidays, even if the employer pays for holidays, they are not required to pay a terminated employee for holidays yet to occur.
The Kentucky Complete Labor Law poster is available currently with the most recent changes to the Kentucky labor laws as well as the federal laws.