ST01 Alabama (December 2007; Updated August 2010 - no changes to law)
1.18: USERRA and Other Laws
2.0: Paid Leave
Paid Military Leave for Public Employees in Alabama
By CAPT Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
Alabama law provides as follows concerning the right of public employees to military leave from their civilian jobs:
"All officers and employees of the State of Alabama, or of any county, municipality, or other agency or political subdivision thereof, or officers or employees of any public or private business or industry who are active members of the Alabama National Guard, Naval Militia, the Alabama State Guard organized in lieu of the National Guard, or of any other reserve component of the armed forces of the United States, shall be entitled to military leave of absence from their respective civil duties and occupations on all days that they are engaged in field or coast defense or other training or on other service ordered under the National Defense Act, or of the federal laws governing the United States reserves, without loss of pay, time, efficiency rating, annual vacation, or sick leave. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no person granted a leave of absence with pay shall be paid for more than 168 working hours per calendar year, and those persons shall be entitled, in addition thereto, to be paid for no more than 168 working hours at any one time while called by the governor to duty in the active service of the state. This section shall apply to all schools and institutions of learning supported by state funds." Code of Alabama, section 31-2-13(a) (emphasis supplied).
Although this section, by its terms, applies to private businesses, as well as the State of Alabama and its political subdivisions, the Alabama Supreme Court has held that requiring private employers to grant paid military leave violates the Alabama Constitution. See White v. Associated Industries of Alabama, Inc., 373 So.2d 616 (Ala. 1979). This law applies to the State of Alabama and its political subdivisions.
The language of section 31-2-13 is archaic, but it appears that the right to paid military leave applies to active duty, active duty for training, and inactive duty training (drills). The 168-hour limit means four work weeks plus one work day, for the typical public employee working 40-hour weeks. After exhausting the right to paid military leave under this section, the public employee has an essentially unlimited right to unpaid military leave under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
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