Employee Travel Reimbursement

Many Alaska job-seekers are concerned with the cost of travel to and from a company’s plant or processing site. Transportation reimbursement policies differ significantly from company to company, region to region, and fishery to fishery – there are no industry-wide standards.

This section describes the various transportation options that are most typically made available by employers.

Most companies pay for travel from the point of hire (usually Seattle), especially if the facility for which they are hiring is in a remote location. Other companies require their employees to finance all travel costs to the Alaska facility and then reimburse those costs upon completion of the contract. Still other companies only pay for the costs of an employee’s return travel. Persons hired, but unable to finance their trip to Alaska, are sometimes offered advances to purchase a ticket, and the debt is repaid out of the employee’s first paycheck. Companies with facilities in the more populous areas (such as Ketchikan, Kenai, and Kodiak) usually only reimburse travel for employees who return year after year.

Most people can count on having their travel costs covered by the company only if they work for the whole season (usually two to three months). If an employee quits before completing his or her contract, the employer will usually pro-rate travel costs and offer partial travel cost reimbursement. Although it is still possible to find companies that pay for full travel expenses no matter where an employee is traveling from, in recent years this has become increasingly rare. Currently, most companies only purchase tickets to and from company headquarters (usually Seattle). If the facility you work at is unionized, however, all or five-sixths of your travel will be paid for.

If requested by an applicant, most companies will send out a company fact sheet highlighting their transportation policy and other benefits. Be sure that whatever you are promised appears on your contract in writing, or the promise may not be honored when you arrive in Alaska.

Companies that operate floating processors and factory trawlers may allow employees to travel on the vessel from Seattle to Alaska. These trips are generally very safe and quite enjoyable. If you are hired to work on a floating processor or a factory trawler and do not ride aboard the processor to Alaska, you will probably be flown to Alaska and will meet up with the ship in port.

We recommend getting a seafood worker contract with a specific company prior to going up to Alaska, because those who find work after they arrive often are unable to get many of the preferred benefits offered by the company.

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