If promised, must be granted. Although no Alaska law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some version of vacation. Thus it is important for employers to remember that if they “promise” vacation, they may be legally bound to provide it--and that a binding promise does not require embodiment in a formal employment contract. Courts have ruled that under some circumstances, an employer's assurance of paid vacation time, whether made in an employee handbook, given orally, or simply understood as a matter of consistent practice, may constitute an implied contract that is binding and enforceable.
Accrual methods. Employers are free to devise their own system for vacation accrual--for example, on a monthly or pay-period basis, or upon completion of a 6-month or 12-month period.
Vacation pay due at termination? Whether employers must pay employees for accrued vacation time at the time of termination depends on whether the employer has promised to do so. Such a promise may be found in an oral contract, written contract, policy, or practice (United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local No. 1496 on Behalf of Morton v. D & A Supermarkets, Inc., 688 P.2d 165 (AK S.Ct. 1984)).
Documentation of vacation. At the time of wage payment employers must give all employees an itemized statement of accrued vacation pay.