Changes to Kentucky’s Adoption Leave Law

Kentucky employers, don’t forget that recent changes to Kentucky’s Adoption Leave Law take effect today!

HB 210, which was signed by Governor Beshear on March 23, 2021, makes several amendments to Kentucky’s Adoption Leave law (KRS 337.015) which become effective as of July 29, 2021.

The law previously required employers to provide reasonable unpaid personal leave, not to exceed six (6) weeks, for an employee’s adoption of a child under seven (7) years of age.  The new amendments affect not only the benefits that must be provided, but also those adoptions that will be covered.

What’s New:

The six (6) week minimum benefit still applies, however going forward, if an employer provides more than six (6) weeks of leave to employees following the birth of their biological child, then that longer amount of leave must be provided to qualifying adoptive parents as well.

Also, the same type, amount and duration of paid leave and other benefits provided to employees following the birth of their biological child must be provided to employees who qualify for adoption leave.

The law has been expanded to cover adoptions of a child under ten (10) years of age.

However the law also contains new restrictions, excluding from its coverage adoptions by employees who are:

  • the child’s fictive kin, (i.e., someone with a preexisting parental relationship with the adopted child, even though they may or may not be related by blood or marriage),
  • the child’s stepparent or stepsibling,
  • any full or half blood relative of the child, including first cousin, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, or a person of a preceding generation as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great-great, or
  • a foster parent who is adopting a foster child who is already in their care.

This law continues to apply to all employers in Kentucky, regardless of their size, and employees can still be required to make a written request to their employer before being granted adoption leave.

What to do in Response to these Changes:

In order to comply with the law’s new benefits requirements and eligibility provisions, employers should update their adoption leave policies and any associated forms to include the broader definition for covered children, provide equivalent leave benefits (and don’t just default to a six (6) week minimum), and exclude adoptions by employees no longer covered.

Employers may voluntarily continue to provide adoption leave to employees whose adoptions are no longer be covered by the law, if they wish to do so.

In addition, employers should review other employee leave and benefits policies, both paid an unpaid, to ensure that they are being applied to covered adoptive parents in the same manner as they are applied to birth parents.