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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Kentucky bill strips workers of meal, rest breaks

Legislation, introduced by Phillip Pratt, a Republican, to curb state laws mandating rest intervals

By Web Desk
March 03, 2024
Republican Phillip Pratt from Georgetown, Kentucky. — Spectrum News/File
Republican Phillip Pratt from Georgetown, Kentucky. — Spectrum News/File

Employers in the US state of Kentucky would no longer be required to give employees a "reasonable" amount of time for lunch or rest breaks under a committee-approved bill passed earlier this week by Republicans, Kentucky Lantern reported.

Legislation HB 500, introduced by Phillip Pratt, a Republican from Georgetown, would curb state laws mandating rest intervals every four hours and lunch breaks every three to five hours throughout a work shift.

The bill would also:

  • Shield companies from penalties if they fail to pay overtime or the minimum wage to workers who commute to and from work. 
  • Keep companies from facing penalties if they fail to pay overtime or the minimum wage for tasks completed by employees before or after their "principal" job activity.
  • Remove a state law that mandates companies to pay overtime to workers who report for work seven days in a row and asks them to put in at least forty hours a week.

Pratt said, "You have federal law, which says you must do this; then you have state law, which says you've got to do that. To run afoul of them becomes very easy."

Labour organisations, including the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and representatives of the Kentucky Education and Labour Cabinet voiced grave reservations and opposition to the bill, claiming that it may jeopardise long-standing pay and workplace rights for workers in Kentucky.