All Alabama leave laws cover only public sector employees - private sector employees are covered under the FMLA and gain no additional benefits from the state of Alabama. Qualified public sector employees include both "classified service" and "unclassified service" state employees, with a number of exclusions:
- Officers elected by a vote of the people
- Officers and employees of the Legislature
- Officers, attendants and employees of the circuit courts, clerks of county jury boards, and deputy circuit solicitors
- Members of boards and commissions, whether appointed or self-perpetuating
- Heads of departments required by law to be appointed by the Governor or by boards or commissions with the Governor's approval
- All officers and employees of the state's institutions of higher learning, teacher training institutions and normal schools
- All officers and employees of all educational, eleemosynary and correctional institutions which are governed by boards of trusties
- Secondary agricultural schools and vocational school
- All inmate help in all charitable, penal and correctional institutions
- All commissioned and warrant officers and enlisted men of the National Guard and Naval Militia of the state, in their respective military and naval grades
- The Governor's private secretary, and those employees of the Governor's office paid exclusively out of the Governor's emergency or contingent funds
- The employees of the State Docks Department engaged in railroad service and subject to the provisions of an Act of Congress known as the Railway Labor Act.
Compared to the FMLA, Alabama allows more flexibility when using sick leave. Employees eligible for sick leave may earn four hours of leave for every two weeks of service, up to 150 days. Employees may use sick leave upon the death of, or to care for, an ill member of his/her immediate family. An employee may also take sick leave if the person is not an immediate family member but the employee has "unusually strong personal ties with that person". If approved, permanent employees may also receive advanced sick leave if the employee is out of sick leave and the need for it arises. All of these benefits have no counterparts in the FMLA and are exclusive to Alabama leave law.
Alabama leave laws state that all pregnant female employees must work until they are disabled as a result of the pregnancy and must return to work as soon as they are no longer disabled. The FMLA grants additional benefits, allowing its 12 workweeks of unpaid leave to be used "for the birth and care of a newborn child".
Alabama offers its qualifying employees bereavement leave (up to three days per occurrence if all accrued sick leave is exhausted), donated leave (employees can donate leave to other employees equal or lower in pay grade who require catastrophic sick leave or maternity leave), leave without pay (for up to one year, with the option of being called back if the employee's attendance "is necessary to the efficient conduct of the business of the state"), mandatory annual leave / leave without pay (employees may be required to use accrued leave if they cannot work for a number of reasons), and education leave (permanent employees may receive full or partial pay if their coursework is directly related to the improvement of the employee's "performance of their current job"). All of these types of leave are exclusive to Alabama and have no counterparts in the FMLA.
Alabama also grants 21 days of paid leave to active service members on all days they participate in military training, pertaining to the Alabama National Guard, Alabama Naval Militia, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air Force Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. This leave is also exclusive to Alabama - the FMLA only grants leave to employees with direct family in the military who have sustained a serious injury or illness.