May 10, 2021

Changes to Adoption Leave Law

Kentucky employers should prepare for possible changes to their personnel policies regarding adoption leave to ensure adoptive parents receive their entitled leave under Kentucky law.

During the 2021 Legislative Session, House Bill 210 was signed into law, which amends KRS 337.015, Kentucky’s Adoption Leave Act. The amended law requires Kentucky employers to allow a period of personal leave of up to six weeks to parents who adopt a child under the age of 10, or if the employer has a policy that provides birth parents time off for bonding that is greater than six weeks, that time period will also be available to the adoptive parents. In addition, if the employer provides any other benefits to birth parents, those benefits will also be available to the adoptive parents. The new law is applicable to all Kentucky employers regardless of size and becomes effective June 29, 2021.

Employees are eligible for leave and other benefits under this law based upon the employer’s existing eligibility requirements for paid and unpaid parental leave. Employees are required to make a written request to their employer before being granted leave.

Here is a breakdown of the new requirements:

  • Increased age threshold. The age threshold for adopted children has increased from under seven (7) years old to under ten (10) years old. 
  • Amount of Leave. An adoptive parent may take “reasonable personal leave” up to 6 weeks in duration at the reception of an adoptive child, unless the employer’s established policy provides a greater amount of leave time to birth parents, then such greater period of leave time “shall be the minimum period of leave available to adoptive parents.” 
  • Equivalent Benefits. Employers must provide adoptive parents with “the same type, amount, and duration of paid leave and other benefits” that it provides to birth parents. 
  • Certain relationships excluded. Certain relatives and other caregivers have been specifically excluded from eligibility for adoption leave, including fictive kin, stepparent, stepsibling, or blood relative (including a relative of half-blood, first cousin, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, and a person of a preceding generation as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great-great) of the adoptive child. Foster parents who adopt a foster child already in their care are also ineligible for adoption leave benefits under the new law.

Cities should begin preparing for the change to the Adoption Leave Law by doing the following:

  • Update your leave policies to reflect the amendments to KRS 337.015, if necessary.
  • Review your existing leave policies (paid and unpaid time-off policies) and ensure your policy gives an adoptive parent an equivalent length of leave and an equivalent pay or unpaid status for the period of leave as birth parents.
  • Review other benefits offered to birth parents and ensure that any other benefits offered to birth parents are also offered to adoptive parents.
  • Review and update any Absentee Request Forms or benefits guides that are given to employees to ensure the language is consistent with the new law. Absentee Request Forms should include language identifying adoptive parents as eligible for parental leave.

With appropriate planning, cities should be able to comply with the new requirements of the law and offer a seamless transition for adoptive parents to enjoy the same benefits of child bonding time as birth parents.

For more information or sample policies contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services manager, or Justin Hocking, personnel services attorney.