In the test case involving an AirTran Airways pilot, the employee was based in Atlanta but commuted as an air passenger to his home in Kentucky, making 8 to 10 round trips per month. Under an arrangement common for airlines, AirTran made free or low-cost fares on other airlines available to commuting employees.
The AirTran Airways pilot was a passenger who was killed when the Comair flight he was on crashed while taking off.
In Fortney v. AirTran Airways, even though the pilot was a passenger who was not working, on a different airline at the time of the crash, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that his loss of life was a valid workers’ comp claim against AirTran Airways. This was true despite the fact that the employee was not being paid and was not (more…)
Let’s go over the injury reporting drill for Kentucky next. The Blue Grass state has a workers’ comp procedure that resembles much of the other states that we’ve looked at for, with of course those little nuances that we’ve become accustomed to among all of the states.
When it comes to Kentucky, the first thing your employees should do is let you or their direct supervisor know that they got hurt, or even they don’t think they got hurt, that there was an accident that may or may not have hurt them. At that point, the supervisor or you the employer can determine if these employees need medical care.
If the answer is yes and your employee needs medical help, the next step for you is to contact the state Workers’ Care access line, which is a phone number that runs 24 hours a day. It can be reached at 800-440-5285 (and of course, it is meant only for Kentucky employers and workers’ comp situations in the state of Kentucky). This line is for employers to report the accident to the state system.
It’s important to note—if the supervisor or if you aren’t available, and let’s say the employee is in need of emergency medical attention, they are still required to contact that Workers’ Care number to report the incident before they go get medical help. Sound complicated? Not really. It makes sense because it’s the Workers’ Care line that tells you or the employee what local medical care facility is the one they should go to for medical help.
It is this facility that the worker must go to for their workers’ comp related medical care, in order for the claim to go through the system in the least expensive and rapid manner. And this is in the best interests of both you and your employees.
One of the facets of the Kentucky workers’ comp compliance system is not necessarily all of the intricacies of it, and how different its regulations are from other states’ systems. We should instead look at how good they are at finding employers who are in violation of the system, and at penalizing them. I think Kentucky employers would agree—that’s a pretty big deal.
In fact, just a couple years ago—in 2005—Kentucky scored a record year when it came to fining employers for not following workers’ comp regulations. They gave out more than 1,100 citations in that year alone to employers who were required by Kentucky law to give their employees workers’ comp coverage but failed to do so.
That was more than a 400 citation increase from 2004, or more than a 50 percent increase. And as you would expect, the fines given out to these cited employers doubled from 2004 to 2005. The state of Kentucky gave out almost $400,000 in fines to these employers. That isn’t chump change.
One of the reasons for these increases is that the state is being serious about going after workers’ comp violators. The state wants its employees to feel secure knowing that they will get medical attention and monetary compensation if they get hurt on the job and then have to miss tim from work.
Another reason the state wants to make sure everyone is following the law is to make the playing field of business flat for everyone involved. After all, if one business isn’t buying workers’ comp insurance when it should, it definitely has an advantage over its competitors that do have workers’ comp insurance. That isn’t fair, says the state.
And it doesn’t take a big organization in the state to require that you follow the workers’ comp laws. In fact, employers only have to have one employee before they are required to purchase workers’ comp insurance.
You might be interested to know that Kentucky is one of 19 states with specific state regulations regarding employee meals and breaks.
Kentucky state law stipulates that a “reasonable meal period” must be provided to all employees. Usually this is expected to be a 30 minute meal break, but it can be shorter if work conditions make it necessary. This meal break may generally be unpaid if it is at least 30 minutes long, but only if the employee is completely relieved of his or her duties. If the worker must do any job duties during the meal break, it must instead be a paid meal break. Finally, this break must be between the 3rd and 5th hour of the employee’s work day.
I also found it interesting that Kentucky law mandates paid rest periods for all employees. For each four hour work period, a worker must be given a ten minute paid rest period.
Kentucky also has a special meal break requirement for workers under the age of 18. Employees ages 14 to 17 must be given a 30 minute lunch break for each five hours they work continuously.
Finally, Kentucky state law reiterates principles also found in Federal law regarding sleep time, waiting time, and travel time. Whether or not waiting time needs to be considered paid work hours depends on the situation. If an employee is allowed to do something of his or her choosing while waiting for another task to be finished or while waiting at the workplace for his or her services to be called upon, it is generally considered work time. On the other hand, if an employee is waiting to be called upon, but has great freedom to do what he or she wishes while on call (and has plenty of time to respond to the call), it is not generally considered paid work time.
When it comes to sleeping time, employees required to be on duty less than 24 hours is considered to be “working” even if he or she is permitted to sleep during some of those hours when not busy. If an employee is on duty more than 24 hours, a sleeping period of no more than eight hours may be deducted from work hours. However, this can only be done if sleeping quarters are provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.
Then there is the issue of travel time. The general rule of thumb is that time spent in the normal day’s commute to and from work is not considered paid working time. However, if an employee is traveling in the course of a days work, it must be considered paid work time.
A thorough presentation of state and federal laws related to lunches and breaks may be found on the Kentucky Complete Labor Law Poster. This poster also presents required notices for all areas of both state and federal labor laws.
The state of Kentucky does not have any laws governing mileage reimbursement except with respect to Workers Compensation. There is no minimum amount set forth or enforced by the state. Most employers, public and private do pay for travel expenses including mileage reimbursement as an act of good faith.
Some employers pay their employees at a rate lower than that set forth by the IRS and in that case the difference may be deducted for tax purposes, however if paid at a higher rate than the excess will be counted as taxable income. They may use any rate they see fit.
Employers are required to reimburse injured employees for travel to and from medical and rehabilitation facilities at a rate approved by the office of the controller. The insurance company handling the claim must designate the provider.
The commonwealth of Kentucky calculates its compensation rates quite differently than most. The formula that they use to calculate this rate applies to employees in the executive branch of government and certain pre approved persons traveling on official state business. It does not apply to the legislative or judicial branch, nor State college staff.
The reimbursement rate is determined using the AAA daily fuel gauge report for Kentucky for regular unleaded gasoline. The rate will be adjusted January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1 of each calendar year. The adjustment will be based on the average retail price of regular grade fuel the week beginning on the second Sunday of the prior month. The current rate, effective July 1, 2006 is $.43
When traveling for the state you are expected to use the most economical transportation available and follow the most direct and usual traveled routes. Any deviation will be at your personal expense. In state mileage is to be determined using Kentucky official highway map mileage software, or the website mapquest. Out of state mileage will be based on mapquest or the most current edition of The Rand McNally road atlas mileage software.