As catastrophic hurricanes threaten the southeastern region, Alabama employers may want to reflect on the state’s emergency response statute.

Alabama law provides job protection for employees who also serve as volunteer firefighters or volunteer emergency worker service providers. If a member of a volunteer fire department or an emergency service provider misses time from work because he or she is called to respond to an emergency, an Alabama employer cannot discharge the employee because of resulting missed time from work. An “emergency” is defined to include going to, attending to, or coming from: (a) a fire call; (b) a hazardous or toxic materials spill and cleanup; (c) any other situation to which a volunteer fire department has been dispatched; or (d) an actual medical emergency to prevent the imminent loss of life.

Employees must attempt to contact their employers before emergency dispatch if possible, and an employer may request that the employee provide a note from the chief of the volunteer emergency service confirming the employee’s involvement at the time and date in question. Time lost due to emergency service may be charged against the employee’s regular compensation. Willful violation by an employer will result in the employee’s reinstatement and repayment of all lost wages and benefits.