labor law guide
The Alaska employment laws every business owner should know
Wages and breaks
Employers are not allowed to pay tipped employees a reduced minimum wage rate. They must be paid the standard minimum wage.
Employers are prohibited from handling an employee’s tipped wages unless they are delivering the cash amount of a tip left for an employee via a credit card or redistributing tips based on a lawful tip pooling arrangement.
Employers must pay non-exempt employees an overtime rate of 1 ½ times the regular rate when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek or 8 hours in a day.
The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.
Employers are not required to provide breaks to employees 16 years of age or older.
If they choose to do so, employers do not have to pay for breaks longer than 20 minutes as long as the employee is free to do as they wish.
Final paychecks in Alaska
Employees who are fired or laid off must be paid all due wages within 3 working days. Employees who quit, resign due to a labor dispute, or are suspended must be paid by the next regular payday.
Alaska child labor laws
When school is in session, working conditions for minors 14 and 15 years of age under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stipulate that minors 14 and 15 years of age may only work a total of 9 hours of school and work combined in one day, a total of 23 hours per week outside of school hours and 6 days a week.
When school is not in session, minors 14 and 15 years of age may work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, and 6 days a week.
Minors 16 and 17 years of age are not allowed to work more than 6 days a week.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
The Alaska Family Leave Act (AFLA) requires covered public employers to provide up to 18 weeks in a 12 or 24 month period of paid or unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for qualifying family and medical reasons.
Employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Employers are not required to provide vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
Employers must pay employees for any accrued and unused vacation days upon separation of employment if its contract or policy provides for such payment.
Employers are not required to pay employees for time spent responding to a jury summons, but employees may not be penalized for doing so.
Private employees are not required to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave.
Employers are required to provide paid time off for employees to vote unless there are two hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s shift, or two hours between the end of the employee’s shift and the closing of the polls.
Employers are not required to provide employee bereavement leave.
Employers must provide leave for victims of a crime to be a witness in court. They are not required to pay the employee for this leave.
Employers must grant leave to their employees who are members of the Alaska National Guard, the Alaska Naval Militia, and the Alaska State Defense Force when the governor orders them into active service.
The employee is entitled to return to their job after their service or, if they are injured during their service, after they are released from the hospital.
Hiring and firing
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.
Alaska law additionally prohibits discrimination based on marital status and parenthood.
Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.
Alaska is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action.
Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:
For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves.
For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.
For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination.
Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.
You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.
If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.
Additional laws that may apply to you.
Background checks are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.
Alaska requires that employers conduct background checks on teachers and school bus drivers. In addition, background checks must be conducted on employees of ambulatory surgical centers, assisted living homes, childcare facilities, child placement agencies, foster homes, free-standing birth centers, home health agencies, hospices, hospitals, and care facilities.
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee because they opposed a violation of civil rights or because they participated in a civil rights proceeding. Civil rights include sex, disability, marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, race, religion, color, or national origin.
In addition, employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for reporting a safety concern or participating in a safety-related proceeding. Similarly, employers may not discharge an employee in violation of public policy, for example, for reporting a workplace hazard.
Alaska does not require or prohibit employers from conducting credit or investigative checks on applicants or employees.
Alaska does not expressly regulate or limit criminal history checks for employment purposes.
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View the resources available to Alaska business owners in our state-by-state COVID-19 Resource Center.
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This summary is not qualified legal advice. Laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros.