Employment in Alaska

Alaska does not require employers to provide a handbook, but many do in order to protect both their own and their employees' interests. A good employee handbook should have a section on at-will employment, a policy to protect the employees from sexual harassment as well as other types of harassment, a section on equal employment opportunity, and an explanation of the Family Medical Leave Act.

If you feel that the employer is not living up to his or her obligations under the employee handbook, seek the counsel of a licensed attorney. Alaska's state laws regarding this subject can be confusing to those of us without law degrees!

COBRA

The acronym COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This law is a federal law that allows employees to continue getting health insurance benefits from their employer for up to 18 months after being terminated. This holds true whether you are terminated against your will or in accordance with your wishes. This law applies only to companies that have 20 or more employees.

There are a number of reasons employees lose coverage, and some of them can allow you to receive COBRA benefits. A few of these factors include a reduction in your working time or, as mentioned before, termination. If your spouse is the one who receives the health insurance benefits, his or her death is cause for coverage by COBRA. A divorce or legal split also qualifies, as does the spouse becoming eligible for receiving Medicare. If the insured spouse loses coverage due to termination or because they are not allowed to work as many hours, you can collect benefits under COBRA.

A dependent child may still qualify if he or she loses coverage as a dependent under the health insurance policy.

The Family Medical Leave Act

In addition to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the state of Alaska provides the Alaska Family Leave Act (AFLA). The FMLA offers you up to 12 weeks of time off if you need to take care of a sick or injured family member or wish to spend the time with a newborn, adopted child, or foster child. During the leave, the state must continue covering your health, life, and travel accident insurance. Upon your return to the workplace, you are guaranteed to have the same position you had when you took time off.

The AFLA allows you as many as 18 weeks off for the same reasons and also keeps your position open for you. Find out if you are eligible before taking time off under either of these acts.

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