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Kentucky Adds Critical Incidents to Emergency Responder Leave Law

Effective July 14, 2022, Kentucky’s emergency responder leave law is amended (KY H.B. 562) to prohibit the termination of an employee who, when acting in their capacity as an emergency responder, takes leave following a critical incident.

Critical Incidents

The law defines critical incidents to mean “any event that has a stressful impact sufficient enough to overwhelm a peace officer’s usual coping strategies” and provided the following as examples: an officer-involved shooting, an officer being the victim of a felonious assault, a fire or vehicle crash resulting in serious injury or death to a first responder, officer or citizen; the death of a colleague or partner; and an incident involving multiple deaths or injuries in a short amount of time.

Amount of Leave

Any peace officer involved directly in a critical incident may take up to 48 hours of leave immediately following a critical incident.

Leave may be paid or unpaid. The pay status is to be determined by the officer’s employment contract, collective labor agreement if any, or by written company policy.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers with an existing Emergency Responders Leave policy in their employee handbook will need to review and update the policy to comply with the newly added reasons for leave.

Employers should also update their internal leave procedures prior to the effective date and ensure that supervisors/managers and those responsible for administering leave have been trained on the updated requirements.

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