The current military leave act was revised and signed into law by President Clinton under the name of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
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USERRA: Military Laws To Ensure Your Civilian Job

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Did you know that there are federal laws that ensure job security and other benefits to employees who take leave to serve in the military?

The current military leave act was revised and signed into law by President Clinton under the name of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

If you are a full-time worker, even if you were only hired a few days ago, you may be entitled to military leave protection if you are called in for active duty, training or reserve duty, under USERRA.

Knowing how these USERRA laws apply to you and how to enforce them when you finish your tour of duty can make a world of difference in your life once your military service has ended.

USERRA HISTORY: THE CHANGING SELECTIVE SERVICE AND TRAINING ACT

The military leave act has undergone several changes over the past 70 years, to protect job security for persons called to serve in the U.S. military.

First passed in the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, this law prevented employers from penalizing military personnel for being called away from their jobs. Over the years, versions of the act included the Veterans Reemployment Rights Act (VRR), the Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The newest version, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, ensures that employees of civilian jobs can return to their jobs after their military service is complete.

USERRA TODAY OFFERS EXPANDED JOB PROTECTIONS

Under USERRA, employers must allow service personnel to return to their civilian jobs after their tour of duty is complete.

USERRA protects returning military personnel from discriminatory or retaliatory action based on their absence. Employers must reinstate employees in a manner that compensates for seniority and offer them the pay rate they would have achieved if they had remained with the company during their time of absence.

In addition, employers cannot reduce absent employees' level of benefits and must reinstate benefits upon the employees return. Employers who provide insurance coverage must continue to do so. The service member must request the coverage and pay up to 102 percent of the premium. Employers cannot require individuals departing for service to use their vacation or other leave to cover their absence.

The USERRA applies to all employers, regardless of size, and to part and full-time positions. It protects members of the military due to voluntary and involuntary enlistment; members of active duty and active duty for training; inactive members called away for training; members of the full time National Guard and Coast Guard; and individuals who miss work due to funeral honors and military exams.

WHAT USERRA WILL NOT COVER

A person serving in the military is job-protected for 5 years. Exceptions to the 5-year rule apply if the returning military member is hospitalized due to illness or injury; if the military member is required to remain in the military to complete a "period of obligated service"; or if the military member is required to engage in additional training or recalled to service.

HOW TO ENSURE YOUR CIVILIAN JOB THROUGH USERRA

Give your employer written and verbal explanations of your departure. If immediate military service is required, you do not even need to let your employer know ahead of time. Once you finish military service, you are entitled to the same position at the salary that you were receiving before you left.

Calculate the pay that will be due to you while you are serving. Public employers are required to pay you during your tour of duty, but private companies may not. Check which benefits you'll receive while you are on military leave. For example, benefits that are presented to workers on maternity leave must also be awarded to people on military leave.

Know your benefits and job protections under USERRA and plan for a smooth transition back to civilian life after military service.



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