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Overtime in Kentucky, Non-basketball edition

| Jan 31, 2020 | Firm News |

This is not a post about Kentucky basketball. I’m also not going to keep writing the words “Kentucky basketball” just to boost the google searches for this post. Kentucky basketball deserves better than that. No, this post is about the payment of overtime wages in Kentucky. It’s a primer, if you will, on the jungle of rules and regulations that covers which employees must be paid time and a half if they work more than 40 hours in a given week. It might sound simple, but there are numerous exemptions, exceptions, and exceptions to the exemptions.

First things first, if an employee’s pay is tied to the number of hours they work, then that employee is almost certainly entitled to overtime pay if he or she works over 40 hours in a single week. This is so, even if the employee would otherwise qualify for an overtime exemption, because such exemptions typically specify that an employee must be paid either on a salary and/or fee basis. For example, if an administrative employee is paid $15 per hour, they would not fall within the administrative exemption to overtime pay, even though the same employee would be exempt if they were paid a sufficient salary (at least $450 per week, at the time of this writing). So the determination of whether an employee must be paid overtime looks at both the employee’s duties, to see if they fit within the requirements of the exemption, and the way in which the employee is paid.

Most non-exempt employees fall within two broad groups: Manual laborers and “blue collar” employees are almost always non-exempt. “These nonexempt “blue collar” employees gain the skills and knowledge required for performance of their routine manual and physical work through apprenticeships and on-the-job training, not through the pro-longed course of specialized intellectual instruction required for exempt learned professionals such as medical doctors, architects, and archeologists.” 803 KAR 1:070, Section 1(1).

The other group of non-exempt employees includes certain categories of public servants: “The KRS 337.010(2)(a)2 exemptions and this administrative regulation also do not apply to police officers, detectives, deputy sheriffs, state troopers, highway patrol officers, parole or probation officers, park rangers, fire fighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, ambulance personnel, rescue workers, hazardous materials workers, and similar employees, regardless of rank or pay level, who perform work such as preventing, controlling, or extinguishing fires of any type; rescuing fire, crime, or accident victims; preventing or detecting crimes; conducting investi- gations or inspections for violations of law; performing surveillance; pursuing, restraining, and ap- prehending suspects; detaining or supervising suspected and convicted criminals, including those on probation or parole; interviewing witnesses; interrogating and fingerprinting suspects; preparing investigative reports; or other similar work.” 803 KAR 1:070 Section 1(2)(a). These employees are meant to be non-exempt because their primary work is neither executive, nor administrative, even though there may be elements of either of these exempt professions performed as part of their duties. In addition, they are not exempt professionals because even though some these employees may have advanced degrees, “a specialized academic degree is not a standard prerequisite for employ- ment in these occupations.” 803 KAR 1:070 Section 1(2)(d).

This is a broad overview of overtime pay in Kentucky. There are many more detailed requirements that can apply to the classification of an employee as exempt or non-exempt, based on the individual situation. You can find the applicable Kentucky regulations here. If you’ve got questions about the classification of a specific position, you should contact an employment attorney in your area.