Kentucky Bill Aims To Eliminate Mandatory Work Breaks

Kentucky Republican lawmakers advanced a bill in a state House committee on February 27 that would repeal the state’s mandated rest breaks for workers, reported.

The measure, HB 500, would do away with the state’s requirement for employers to provide a 10-minute break for every four hours worked. Instead, the bill would require employers who do not provide paid 10-minute breaks to keep employees on the clock when they break for meals.

The bill was approved by the House Small Business and Information Technology Committee with near-unanimous support from Republicans. Democrat committee members opposed the measure.

The bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Phillip Pratt, would also repeal the law requiring employers to pay time and a half for overtime in some circumstances.

Pratt, who chairs the committee, said the bill was designed to clear up any confusion employers may have when trying to navigate the differences in federal and state employment laws, the Kentucky Lantern reported.

Federal law does not require employers to offer rest or lunch breaks. If an employer offers short rest breaks of up to 20 minutes, the employee on break remains on the clock.

Pratt explained that federal law says one thing while state laws say another, making it easy to “run afoul” of the law unintentionally.

Kentucky labor groups, including the state’s AFL-CIO, oppose the legislation, saying it could endanger longstanding workplace and wage protections for workers in the state.

Democrat state Rep. Nima Kulkarni, who voted against the measure, described the bill as an “erosion” of employee protections that would make it harder for businesses to attract workers.

Democrat Rachel Roberts, the minority whip, accused Pratt, the owner of a landscaping company, of proposing the bill for self-serving reasons.

Pratt denied the accusation, arguing that he introduced the bill to help Kentucky business owners and not himself.