If promised, vacation must be granted. Although no Kentucky law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some version of vacation. Thus, it is important for employers to remember that if they “promise” vacation, they may be legally bound to provide it—and that a binding promise does not require a formal contract.
Kentucky courts have held that policies published in employee handbooks may constitute implied contracts, which are binding and enforceable. Therefore, employers should review handbooks, policy statements, and promises carefully to ensure that they are accurate and current. If not, they should be changed, and employees must be notified in advance of the change.
Accrual method. Employers are free to devise their own system for vacation accrual--for example, on a monthly or pay-period basis, or upon completion of a 6-month or 12-month period. It is important to be clear and unambiguous when drafting such policies. If the policy is intended to ensure that employees work the entire accrual period to earn their vacation days, it should state clearly that employees will not be entitled to pro rata payment if they leave partway through the period. Remember that any vagueness in the policy is likely to be construed against the employer.
Vacation pay due at termination? Kentucky law considers vacation pay to be a part of wages; thus if paid vacation is promised by contract, policy, or practice, employees who terminate for whatever reason, must be paid for all earned, unused vacation pay at the time of the next normal pay period or 14 days after their last day, whichever is later.
Any failure to comply with these rules will ...