When you turn 18, employers are much less restricted in how often you work, how long you work, and your type of work. Apart from the change in how the law views you when you’re 17 compared to how the law views you when you’re 18, there are other considerations to keep in mind when thinking about employment. Before you apply for a job, make sure to review your social media and online settings that may allow for others to view your personal information without you knowing. Nothing prevents employers from “googling” your name or reviewing your social media. It is important to know that social media leaves a trace that employers may find. Additionally, it’s important to ensure your resume is up to date and any references listed are still good references.
It’s also a good idea to take the time to learn about the job before you apply. Once you know what a potential employer is looking for, you can cater your resume to highlight which attributes are the best fit for the job.
Application and Interview
Applying for a job is the first opportunity you have to introduce yourself to a potential employer. Employers use applications to search for positive qualities in potential candidates and also to look for red flags that may make them think twice before bringing an applicant in for an interview. Because finding a job can be difficult, and the application is often the “first cut” for candidates seeking employment, it is important to know how an employer may consider the contents of your application.
Some employers perform background checks when you apply for a job. In Kentucky, employers may use a system called CourtNet to check for any criminal history. CourtNet is a statewide database operated by Kentucky’s Administrative Office of the Court. A criminal record search using this system may reveal previous charges in all 120 counties, amendments to those charges, and the final disposition of those charges. Once you are 18, allrecords are public and can affect your ability to get a job. For private employers in Kentucky, like a local convenience store or restaurant, the only records that cannot be accessed are juvenile records and those that have been expunged by the court or removed from your record. Both convictions and arrest records may be considered in hiring decisions and employers may be able to look up this information online. Because of this, it is important to be aware of what an employer may find in a background check and for you to be honest in your disclosures on an application.
There are other items to keep in mind when filling out a job application. Some items include information that you may or may not have to disclose to a potential employer. Importantly, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics. The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state government authority that enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against people in the area of employment. Employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and childbirth), national origin, gender, or disability is prohibited. Currently, sexual orientation is not a protected class for employment discrimination, although some Kentucky cities have passed “Fairness Ordinances” to change this law at the local level.
If you feel as if you were not hired based on a disclosure on your application relating to the protected characteristics listed above, you may consider contacting an attorney to discuss your rights.
Once you get through the process of applying and interviewing, the real work starts. Literally. You may find yourself having questions that relate to your pay, your hours and work schedule, or whether your coworkers or superiors are allowed to act the way they are. Before your first day, it is extremely important to review your employment contract and employee handbook thoroughly. These documents will often answer questions regarding specific policies and procedures of your employment.
The following are relevant rights to be aware of in your employment:
You have the right to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment. It is a violation of Kentucky law for your compensation or conditions of employment to be based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability. KRS 344.100.
Kentucky’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. KRS 337.275. If the federal minimum wage is increased, Kentucky’s minimum wage will increase by the same amount, and the increase takes effect the same day as the federal minimum wage increase.
If your job is one where you regularly receive more than thirty dollars ($30) a month in tips, your employer is only required to pay you $2.13 an hour. Employers are not allowed to keep tips received by its employees for any purposes. Furthermore, managers or supervisors are not allowed to keep any portion of an employee’s tips. Additionally, in Kentucky, it’s unlawful for an employer to require you to return any tips to the employer, except for the purpose of withholding amounts required by federal or state law. KRS 337.065. Similarly, your employer cannot require you to participate in a “tip pool” for distribution among all employees. You may, however, voluntarily enter into an agreement with other employees to divide tips among yourselves. This voluntarily tipping pool may be customary at your place of employment and is important to discuss prior to accepting employment.
Your employer must pay you at least twice a month. KRS 337.020. Under Kentucky law, if you work seven (7) days in any one (1) workweek, employers are required to pay you time and a half for the time you work on the seventh day. KRS 337.050(1).
Your employer is not allowed to withhold any part of the agreed upon wages unless a special exception applies. KRS 337.060. If you see that you are not being paid in full, review your employment contract and your pay stub. For any deductions to your pay that go towards insurance premiums or hospital and/or medical dues, you are required to have previously authorized your employer to do so in writing.
Your employer is required to provide you a “reasonable period” for lunch. KRS 337.355. This reasonable period may not be required by your employer to be sooner than three (3) hours after your shift starts, or after you’ve being working for five (5) hours. In addition to a regularly scheduled lunch period, you’re entitled to a rest period of at least ten (10) minutes for every four (4) hours worked, and your wages may not be reduced for the rest period. KRS 337.365.
If you have any questions about a policy or procedure in your contract or handbook, it is good practice to consult with a manager or adviser. If you think you may be asked to do things against policy, or against the law, it is good practice to consult with an attorney.
IIf you are terminated from your employment, and you believe this termination is wrongful, you need to review the terms of your employment contract (if you have one) and employee handbook. These documents will provide for terms of dismissal. An employment contract may designate that your employment is “at-will.” This means that your employment can be terminated at any time, by you or your employer. However, sometimes there is specific notice requirements for firing at will, and your employer may be obligated to give you notice before ending your employment.If you quit or are fired, you are entitled to be paid in full all wages or salary that you earned. KRS 337.055. The employer must pay you no later than the next pay period, or within fourteen (14) days after you leave, whichever is later. You may also be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are fired or laid off. You may not be eligible for unemployment if you voluntarily leave or are fired for cause.