With so many employees being called away for active duty in the military, employers need to know and understand certain laws affecting those employees. The Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) issued an interim final rule, effective Jan. 18, 2006, requiring employers to provide a notice of the rights, benefits and obligations of employees and employers under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
USERRA is intended to minimize the disadvantages to an individual that occur when that person needs to be absent from his or her civilian employment to serve in our country's uniformed services. The law seeks to ensure that those who serve their country can retain their civilian employment and benefits, and can seek employment free from discrimination because of their service.
Employees who are called away to active duty have the right to be re-employed to the job, or in some cases a comparable job, and benefits they would have attained if they had not been absent due to military service if they meet the following conditions:
- Ensure their employer receives advance notice of the service obligation.
- Have five years or less of cumulative service while with one employer.
- Return to work or apply for reemployment in a timely manner.
- Have not been separated from service with a disqualifying discharge or under other than honorable conditions.
Employees also have specific rights in regards to continuing their existing employer-based health plan coverage.
For more details and to print out free official notices that you can use in your workplace, go to http://www.dol.gov/elaws/userra.htm and click on "Your Rights Under USERRA".
Employers must provide this information by posting a notice where employee notices are customarily placed or by handing, mailing or e-mailing out the notice, provided the full text of the notice is included.
This column contains human resource suggestions by human resource specialists. This information is not intended as professional or legal advice of any kind.
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