Does your employer give you time off for vacation, sickness, personal days, or paid time off (PTO)? In addition to these policies, which are discretionary in Alabama, you might also have the legal right to time off from work under federal and Alabama state law. For example, if you are unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth, or you need to handle practical matters arising from a family member’s military deployment, you may be legally entitled to take time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although Alabama does not have a state family and medical leave law, it does require employers to give employees time off for military service and other civic responsibilities.
Alabama leave rights are explained below. For more information, see our page on employee leave rights.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member (a spouse, parent, or child), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, or to take care of certain practical matters (called “exigencies”) arising from a family member’s military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffers or exacerbates a serious illness or injury during military service. (For purposes of military family leave, employees may take leave to care for a broader category of family members, including grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
Employers with at least 50 employees must follow the FMLA. To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. Employees may continue their employer-provided health benefits while on leave. When their FMLA leave is through, they have the right to be reinstated to their former position, absent exceptional circumstances. (Find out more about the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
While some states have their own family and medical leave laws that provide additional rights, Alabama is not one of them. Employees in Alabama are protected only by the federal FMLA.
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. These employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service. Employers may not discriminate against employees based on their military service. (Learn more about USERRA inTaking Military Leave.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military (such as the militia) or are called to state active duty. In Alabama, employees who are members of the national guard and are called to state active duty for 30 days or more have the same leave and reinstatement rights guaranteed by USERRA. The same protections extend to employees who are called to federally funded active duty for service, other than training.
Alabama law also gives employees the right to take time off work, with pay, for the civic responsibility of serving on a jury. Employers must allow employees to take time off for jury service.
Many states also require employers to give employees a small amount of time off to cast their ballots in an election. Alabama employers must let employees take up to one hour off, unpaid, if necessary to cast their ballots. Employers are not required to give time off if the employee has at least one hour off work when the polls are open, or at least two hours off work before the polls open.