In Alaska, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. Alaska DOL Wage & Hour Information. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. Alaska DOL Wage & Hour Information.
In Alaska, an employer must pay an employee for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment if its policy or contract provides for such payment. Alaska DOL Wage & Hour Information. Alaska’s Legislature and its courts are silent regarding any obligation an employer may have regarding payment of accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment if the policy or contract is silent on the matter.
Due to the lack of clarification by Alaska’s authorities on the matter of vacation leave and the emphasis on the contractual nature of an agreement to provide vacation leave, it is likely employers are free to establish the vacation leave policy of their choosing, including policies providing for forfeiture of accrued leave upon separation from employment. Alaska DOL Wage & Hour Information.
An employer would likely be free to implement a policy or enter into a contract that caps the amount of vacation leave an employee can accumulate over time. Alaska DOL Wage & Hour Information.
An employer would also likely be free to implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it. Alaska DOL Wage & Hour Information.
Alaska leave laws do not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. Alaska Dept. of Labor FAQs. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. An employer in Alaska may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Alaska leave laws do not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. Alaska Dept. of Labor FAQs. In Alaska, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays.
A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws.
If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
Visit our Alaska State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Alaska as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.
Jury Duty Leave
Alaska leave laws do not require employers to pay employees any wages for the time spent complying with a jury summons or serving on a jury.
An employer may not discharge, threaten, coerce, or penalize an employee for complying with a jury summons or serving on a jury. AK Statute 9.20.037
Alaska leave laws require employers to provide employees with time off with pay to vote unless there are two hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s scheduled shift or two hours between the end of the employee’s shift and the closing of the polls. AK Statute 15.56.100
Alaska law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.
Family and Medical Leave
Both federal and state guidelines cover family and medical leave in Alaska. Like many other states, Alaska must comply with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The state has its own guidelines through the Alaska Family Leave Act (AFLA), however, the AFLA only applies to public employers. The AFLA does not apply to private employers.
Regarding the federal guidelines, employees in Alaska are entitled to 12 weeks of leave within 12 months. Employers must have 50+ employees working at their location within a 75-mile radius to provide this type of leave.
It’s also important to note that these 12 weeks of leave renew every 12 months, as long as the employees meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility requirements for employees to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act include:
- Employees must have worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 months
- Employees must have worked at least 1250 hours the previous year
- Employees must work at a location with 50+ employees within a 75-mile radius
The FMLA ensures eligible employees can take medical leave in various circumstances. These situations include:
- Recovering from a serious health condition
- Assisting a family member in recovering from a serious health condition
- Helping an ill or injured military family member
- Bonding with a new child
The Alaska Family Leave Act (AFLA) provides additional leave options on a state level to employees of public employers. The state provides job-protected absences for up to 18 weeks per 24 months. However, employees must meet eligibility criteria, such as having a qualifying medical condition.
Like family medical leave in Alaska, the Alaska Family Leave Act provides additional options for parental leave for public employers. The ALFA does not apply to private employers or their employees.
In the state, employees of private employers use leave through the FMLA for bonding leave.
Taking a break through the FMLA provides parents with 12 weeks of leave in 12 months to bond with a new child. The leave time may vary depending on the parent’s marital status and place of employment.
Military members in Alaska are entitled to the same benefits that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) offers, including:
- Employees have the right to continue group healthcare benefits for 24 months of their leave
- Upon return, employees must be reinstated to the exact (or equivalent) previously held position
- Employees must receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service (with exceptions)
In Alaska, employees in the National Guard, Naval Militia, and State Defense Force are entitled to unlimited unpaid leave. Additionally, they are eligible for employment reinstatement once their leave has been completed at an equal or similar position.
Employees who experience a disability during their service must request reemployment within 30 days of hospital release.
It’s also important to note once a deployed employee returns from service, they must return the following workday. This period accounts for any travel as well.