Recruiting from the military provides employers with a skilled pool of applicants who generally have a great work ethic. However, there are some things employers need to understand regarding their obligations to those veterans who are in the reserves or National Guard:

1) Regardless of whether military service is voluntary or involuntary, The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of the Reserve. Chief among these protections is the right not to be discriminated against because of past, present or future military service.  Employers are required to post a notice about veterans’ rights under USERRA in their workplaces.

2) USERRA requires returning service-members to be reemployed in the same job or a job they would have attained had they not been absent for military service.  These individuals are entitled to the same seniority, pay, and benefits the individual had or would have achieved had they not been called to perform military service.  Additionally, employers are required to make reasonable efforts to retrain, refresh and upgrade the skills of returning service-members to help them qualify for reemployment.

3) USERRA also establishes timeframes for individuals to apply for reemployment after they are discharged.  Those timeframes vary depending on how long the individual has been absent due to military service.

4) The USERRA rules apply to reservists’ annual training requirements. Individuals cannot in any way be penalized for participating in required training to maintain their reservist status.  An employer cannot require a service-member to use his/her vacation benefits during these required training sessions; however, the individuals are permitted to use that benefit should they choose to do so.

5) Service in the National Disaster Medical System and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service may also be protected under USERRA.

While there are numerous requirements for employers to follow, the benefits of employing a veteran outweigh the restrictions.  Those benefits include:

  • Specialized advanced training – Advanced, specialized training is provided to all service members in their respective fields. Such focused training may be in such fields as computer, financial, medical, engineering, technical mechanical or security fields, to name a few.
  • Technology Knowledge – The military relies on some of the most cutting edge technology in the world. Frequently, service members are the first ones to adopt new technology.
  • Tax and Training Incentives - Employers may be eligible for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit from the IRS.
  • Planning, Organizing & Time Management – Most military operations require extensive planning and workload management in order to accomplish their objectives within a specific time frame.  Carefully considered objectives, strengths and limitations of other people, resources, time schedules, supplies, logistics and various other factors are always being considered. Organization, evaluation and adjustment are continuously being assessed

The Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR) provides expert guidance to employers and service-members. Visit their website to learn more about how your organization can support U.S. Veterans.

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