Labor and Employment Law Overview: Alaska

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Alaska law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also allow employees access to their personnel files. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Alaska permits preemployment background checks and drug testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Alaska, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Alaska has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Alaska law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including jury duty leave, voting leave, military leave and crime victim leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Alaska law requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees, including safety and loss program requirements. Alaska also prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. An employer may prohibit weapons in the workplace, but not in private vehicles in company parking lots. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Alaska employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Alaska

Alaska has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including a higher minimum wage, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as occupational safety.

Select Alaska employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Alaska requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The Alaska Human Rights Act (AHRA) applies to employers with one or more employees and prohibits discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics, such as:

  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Age;
  • Physical or mental disability;
  • Sex;
  • Marital status;
  • Changes in marital status;
  • Pregnancy; and
  • Parenthood.

The AHRA also prohibits an employer from terminating or otherwise discriminating against an individual because he or she has opposed any practices forbidden by the law or has filed a complaint or testified or assisted in a proceeding under the law.

Access to Personnel Files

Alaska law requires an employer to provide current and former employees with the opportunity to review and make copies of their personnel records during regular business hours. The employer may create reasonable rules and charge a reasonable copying fee.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Alaska can be found in the Alaska Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Alaska, EEO - Discrimination: Alaska, EEO - Harassment: Alaska, EEO - Retaliation: Alaska, HR Management: Alaska, Alaska Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and HR Management: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Alaska requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Criminal Checks

An employer may obtain a job applicant's criminal history record that contains:

  • Past conviction information;
  • Current offender information; or
  • Criminal identification information (e.g., fingerprints, photographs).

Applicants may deny the existence of criminal history information that has been sealed.

Drug Testing

Alaska employers may test prospective employees for the presence of drugs and may refuse to hire applicants based on a positive drug test or refusal to submit to a drug test. The law does not require applicant drug testing, but an employer that chooses to do so must follow the law's requirements, such as providing applicants with prior notice that they will be tested and paying the entire actual costs related to the testing.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Alaska can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Alaska and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Alaska requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

The Alaska Wage and Hour Act sets the state's minimum wage higher than the federal rate. The minimum wage in Alaska is currently $9.89 per hour. Every January 1, the minimum wage is adjusted for inflation. State law requires the state's minimum wage to be at least one dollar more than the federal minimum wage.

Overtime

The Alaska Wage and Hour Act requires employers to pay nonexempt employees overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek and in excess of eight hours in a workday. However, an employer is not required to pay both daily overtime and weekly overtime for the same hours worked.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Alaska restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are generally prohibited from working in hazardous occupations, and 14 and 15 year olds are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations such as manufacturing and transportation.

All minors are prohibited from working more than six days a week. Additionally, minors 16 years of age and under may work only:

  • A combined total of nine hours of school attendance and employment in one day;
  • Between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.;
  • Up to 23 hours in one week when school is in session, except domestic work and babysitting; and
  • Up to 40 hours a week when school is out.

Alaska employers must provide a rest break of at least 30 minutes to minors who are scheduled to work for six or more consecutive hours. The rest break must occur after the first hour and a half of work and before the beginning of the last hour of work. Minors who work for five consecutive hours without a break also are entitled to a break of at least 30 minutes before continuing to work.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Alaska can be found in the Alaska Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Alaska, Overtime: Alaska, Child Labor: Alaska, Alaska Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Alaska requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

An employer must pay the full amount of wages due to employees in cash, negotiable checks, drafts or orders payable upon presentation without discount by a bank or depository within the state. Wages may be paid by direct deposit of certain conditions are met.

Pay Frequency

An employer and employee may agree in the initial contract of employment to monthly pay periods. Otherwise, the employer must establish monthly or semimonthly pay periods, as chosen by employees.

Pay Statements

Alaska employers must provide employees with pay statements of earnings and deductions each pay period. The statement must contain certain specified information, such as rate of pay, gross and net wages, and straight and overtime hours worked.

Wage Deductions

Employers may make certain types of deductions from employees' wages, such as those required by state or federal law or with the employee's written authorization (e.g., benefit contributions, transportation costs).

State law specifically prohibits employers from making deductions for several reasons, including certain shortages or losses.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Alaska can be found in Payment of Wages: Alaska, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Alaska and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Alaska has few laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Voting leave;
  • Military leave; and
  • Crime victim leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in Alaska can be found in the Alaska Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Alaska, USERRA: Alaska, Other Leaves: Alaska and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Alaska requirements impacting health and safety are:

Occupational Safety and Health

Alaska operates its job safety and health programs covering the private sector under a state plan approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, the Alaska state plan has some rules that are stricter than its federal counterpart. In particular, more protective rules exist with regard to reporting workplace injuries and fatalities, safety and loss programs, bloodborne pathogens and hazard communication.

Smoke-Free Workplace

Alaska bans smoking in an enclosed area in a public place, such as a place of employment, including a vehicle. Smoking is also prohibited in an outdoor area where an employer has declared its entire outside grounds to be smoke-free or within 20 feet of an entrance, open window, or heating or ventilation system air intake vent at an enclosed area at a place where smoking is prohibited. Proper signage must be posted where smoking is prohibited. The smoking ban includes smoking tobacco, e-cigarettes and other oral smoking devices.

Weapons in the Workplace

Alaska law prohibits employers from making policies to prevent individuals from storing lawfully owned firearms in a locked, privately owned vehicle in an employee parking lot. However, an employer generally may prohibit firearms in the workplace, in company vehicles, in secured restricted areas and within 300 feet of a secured restricted access area. Proper signage must be posted where firearms are prohibited.

Safe Driving Practices

Under Alaska law, all drivers are prohibited from texting, including reading or typing texts or other nonvoice message or communication, while operating a motor vehicle.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Alaska can be found in the Alaska Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Alaska, Employee Health: Alaska, Workplace Security: Alaska, Alaska Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal, Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Alaska requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Employees who are fired or laid off must be paid final wages within three working days after the termination. Employees who resign must be paid at the next regular payday that is at least three days after the employer received notice of the resignation.

An employer must pay accrued vacation time if it has a policy or contract providing for it.

References

An employer that provides job references in good faith enjoy a qualified immunity from claims under Alaska law. A lack of good faith can be shown if the employer:

  • Recklessly, knowingly or maliciously disclosed false or deliberately misleading information; or
  • Disclosed information in violation of an employee's civil rights under federal or state law.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Alaska can be found in Payment of Wages: Alaska, Employee Communications: Alaska and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Alaska? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.