Alabama Labor Laws: Everything You Need to Know
Alabama labor laws are one of the states that have not established its minimum wage rate. As such, both employers and employees must abide by the FLSA Act.8 min read
What Are Alabama Labor Laws?
Alabama labor laws refers to labor laws in the state of Alabama. Alabama is one of the states that has not established a minimum wage rate. As such, both employers and employees must abide by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which includes the minimum wage determined by federal law. Currently, the United States federal minimum wage rate is $7.25.
Every employer in Alabama is required to purchase and maintain workers compensation insurance in case there is an injury on the job. If you are injured on the job in Alabama, you have the right to consult with the doctor or medical professional of your choosing.
Alabama labor laws do not refer to governing payment related to overtime. As such, only federal overtime laws apply. Unfortunately, some dishonest employers try to get around Alabama employee rights by hiring their workers as salaried employees instead of hourly.
Alabama employees who feel their employers have violated overtime laws can take several types of actions to ensure their rights are protected.
Meals and Breaks
When it comes to break times, Alabama only requires employees ages 14 and 15 to take a 30-minute meal or rest period for working five continuous hours.
There is no Alabama law stating that employees 16 years of age and older get a specific break period. As such, the federal law applies, but there is also now rule in the federal law that demands an employer provide a lunch break or other rest period.
Many employers choose to provide meal times and breaks. When a business provides a break time of 20 minutes, that rest period must be paid. Break periods, including meal times, lasting 30 minutes or more can be unpaid as long as the employee is free from all work duties during this period.
As with break times, Alabama labor laws do not require employers to provide workers with paid or unpaid vacation leave.
Many employers choose to provide vacation leave as part of their benefits packages to attract employees, and as such they must comply with their employment contract or company policy.
An employer can legally establish a policy or contract specifically stating that employees are disqualified from accrued vacation time if they quit, are fired, or are laid off.
A company can also establish policies that disqualify workers from being compensated for their accrued vacation time if they fail to meet certain requirements, such as providing a two-weeks' notice when quitting their job.
For employers whose company policy states that any accrued vacation must be paid to an employee upon their separation from the company, the employer must abide by the policy or employment contract. Failing to do so is against the law.
Sick Leave in Alabama
Alabama labor laws do not require employers to give workers paid or unpaid sick leave benefits. However, an Alabama employer may have to allow an employee to take unpaid sick leave according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or similar federal law.
For those who do choose to provide their employees with sick leave, they must comply with company policy or the employment contract. While an employer is not required by state law to pay accrued sick leave time to workers if they quit, are fired, or are laid off, companies must still refer to their policy and act accordingly.
Alabama labor laws do not require private companies to provide their workers with holiday leave, either paid or unpaid. In fact, a private employer can require that an employee work holidays in Alabama.
Furthermore, a private employer isn't required to pay an employee premium holiday pay, such as the typical time-and-a-half, for working on a holiday. The only time an employee can earn more when working holidays is if he or she works overtime, then standard overtime laws kick in.
Even so, many employers choose to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave as part of their established company policy, which can help attract employees. When this is the case, the company must stand by the terms of its established policy as agreed to in the employee contract.
Jury Duty Leave
Alabama does require employers to give employees paid leave when they are summoned for jury duty and are selected to serve as a jury member in court.
It's against the law for an employer to force an employee to use any of their accrued vacation or sick leave, whether that leave is paid or unpaid, when the employee is called for jury duty.
Employers who have five or fewer full-time employees don't need to worry if two of their employees are summoned for jury duty, as the court must automatically reschedule or postpone the jury duty of those employees in the event that they are summoned to appear at the same time.
An employer cannot discharge or take action against an employee serving jury duty as long as the employee returns to work the following work day after being dismissed from duty.
Alabama labor laws do require employers to give workers voting leave during any election. This leave can total up to one hour.
Only employees registered to vote are eligible to take voting leave, and they must make a reasonable request from the employer regarding the voting leave.
Employers are exempt from offering voting leave if the polls are open two hours before an employee's schedule starts, or if the polls remain open for one hour after work is over.
The state of Alabama doesn't have any overtime or minimum wage laws. Because of this, Alabama hasn't adopted a specific definition of hours worked as they would be considered in compensation calculations.
However, since most Alabama employers and employees are still subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the hours worked are determined based on federal law.
Bereavement leave is usually an unpaid form of leave that can be taken due to the death of a family member or close friend, although most company policies state that only the deaths of close relatives qualify for bereavement leave.
Alabama doesn't require employers to extend any type of bereavement leave to employees, not even leave to attend funerals. Employers can still choose to provide bereavement leave as part of their benefits package, and they must comply with company policy whenever an employee requests the leave.
Alabama Child Labor Laws
Alabama child labor laws are designed to regulate the employment of minors, specifically teenagers, in the state. These laws determine the ages, times, and the types of work they are allowed to perform.
For a company to employ minors, they must have a Child Labor Certificate from the Alabama Department of Labor. Employers must also get and maintain an Eligibility to Work Form on file for any 14- or 15-year-old teenager employed at the company.
13 Years Old and Younger
The state of Alabama specifically prohibits children who are 13 and younger from being employed in any occupation or trade that places them in a public place. This includes delivering newspapers, selling candy, or distributing magazines.
Minors 13 years of age and younger who are discovered working in violation of the state's child labor laws can be arrested and charged as juvenile delinquents.
14- and 15-Year-Olds
Alabama child labor laws also have rules related to 14- and 15-year-olds. These laws place restrictions on what type of job a 14 or 15-year-olds can work, the times during which that work can be performed, and how many hours they may work in a single workweek.
16- and 17-Year-Olds
Alabama child labor laws specifically state provisions for 16- and 17-year-olds, including the same types of restrictions placed on 14- and 15-year-olds. These restrictions are generally more lenient than younger employees.
Child Actors and Performers
Any teenager under 18 who works or appears in a production, either singing, acting, or performing in some other capacity, must be approved by the Alabama Film Office, which falls under the Alabama Department of Labor.
The Alabama Department of Labor will specify any time restrictions for children under 18 years of age working in a performance capacity.
The Alabama Department of Labor (DOL) is also responsible for setting time restrictions for minors who work as child models.
Companies employing children and teenagers must meet these conditions:
- have written consent from a parent or guardian
- notify the Child Labor Division of the Alabama Department of Labor
- the parent or guardian cannot let modeling interfere with academic performance
- the child model's activities cannot be detrimental to the health, welfare, safety, life, or morals of the individual
- a parent or guardian must accompany a child under 16 to all modeling sessions
Child Labor Meals and Breaks
Even though Alabama does not demand employers provide adult employees with specific meal or break times, state child labor laws do specify that teenagers who are 14 or 15 years-old should have a rest or meal break totaling at least 30 minutes whenever that teenager works five continuous hours.
Any meal or rest breaks lasting less than 30 minutes are not deemed sufficient enough to break up the teenager's schedule lasting five hours or more.
In Alabama, employers do not have to pay a 14- or 15-year old employee for the time spent resting or taking a meal break.
Employers are also not required to provide the same type of break to teenagers who are 16 or 17 years old, although they may choose to do so.
Alabama child labor laws demand that companies provide minors with specific working conditions, including:
- an environment that is properly ventilated and sanitary
- indoor restrooms, except in circumstances where this is not possible or practical
- convenient and suitable restrooms separate for each sex, and in locations and number laid out by the Alabama Department of Labor
- when employing 20 or more people, sanitary drinking fountains must be provided in accordance with the Alabama Department of Labor
The Alabama Department of Labor may inspect any business establishment that employs minors to make sure these conditions are being met.
Employers who hire minors are required to post a notice detailing Alabama's child labor laws in a conspicuous place, such as an employee breakroom.
This posted notice must show the maximum number of hours teenagers under the age of 18 can work without violating the law.
Establishments must also post their Child Labor Certificate from the Alabama Department of Labor in a public place, maintaining it at all times.
Adult Entertainment Establishments
Alabama child labor laws specifically prohibit any adult entertainment company or establishment from employing a worker who is under the age of 18.
Adult entertainment establishments include:
- live entertainment businesses
- adult bookstores
- escort agencies
- adult arcades
- adult cabarets
- adult movie theaters
- adult video stores
- adult toy stores
- nude model studios
- lingerie modeling studios
- massage parlors
- body shampooing businesses
- any combination of these
Employer Recordkeeping Requirements
The state's child labor laws require companies to keep a completed Employee Information Form on file, as well as proof of age for every minor employed at the business. More than that, employers must maintain photostatic or electronic copies of a minor's time records for the year preceding the last work period recorded for each minor employ.
Right of Access
At any given time, and without warrant or notice, the Alabama Department of Labor can enter a business to perform a routine inspection. This right of access is available to the state's Department of Labor so it may ensure that no child labor laws are being violated.
Employers who violate the state's child labor laws may receive a civil penalty totaling $300 or $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the nature of the violation of which provision was violated.
The Alabama Department of Labor has the right to assess separate penalties for each minor employee affected by a company's illegal actions. More than that, the Alabama Department of Labor can choose to assess multiple penalties for each affected minor employee if more than one child labor law provision was violated.
Employers may also be charged with a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense, or a Class B misdemeanor if the company has previously been caught violating the state's child labor laws.
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