During the month of November, we celebrate our veterans for the sacrifices they make to protect our country. Veterans’ Day in particular is a time to remember those who gave their lives to protect this country and the world.
Many companies have employed veterans who currently still serve our country as reservists and National Guard members. As employers, it is our responsibility to allow these individuals time off to participate in training exercises or even perform active duty service when called. The Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the civilian jobs of these individuals while they are participating in these activities.
Employees have a right to be reemployed by their employers if the individual has left their civilian job to perform service in the uniformed service if:
- they have provided advance written or verbal notice of their service;
- they have five years or less of cumulative service in the uniformed services while employed with that particular company;
- they return to work in a timely manner at the end of their service; and
- they have not been separated from service under a disqualifying discharge or under less than honorable conditions.
Right to be Free from Discrimination and Retaliation
Employers may not retaliate or discriminate against current or former members of the uniformed service in:
- initial employment;
- retention in employment;
- promotion; or
- any benefit of employment
Health Insurance Protection
Employees who leave their jobs to perform military service have a right to elect to continue the existing employer-based health plan coverage for themselves and their dependents for up to 24 months while in the military.
Even if employees do not elect to continue coverage during military service, they have a right to be reinstated to the employer’s health plan once reemployed, generally without any waiting period or exclusions except for service-related illnesses or injuries.
Employers of all sizes are obligated to post a notice of employees’ rights under USERRA. This poster may be downloaded from: http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/USERRA_Private.pdf.
Additional information about protections afforded to the men and women who serve our country is available from the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov/elaws/userra.htm and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at http://www.esgr.mil/userra/what-is-userra.aspx.
We encourage employers to show their support of employees who are veterans by publicly acknowledging and thanking them for their service.
Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here for currently scheduled programs: http://www.eafinc.org/online_store/training/HCCMO/training_programs.pdf.
Click here to learn more about EAF membership benefits http://www.eafinc.org/services/calculate_roi.html.