Published on January 31st, 2017 by Alan L. Sklover
“ For those who have fought for it,
life has a flavor the protected will never know.”
– Author Unknown
ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Are you or a loved one a member of the U.S. Armed Forces? National Guard? Reserves? Being called up for military service or training? Considering signing up for service or training?
If so, there is a U.S. federal law that you should know about. It provides very valuable employment-related legal rights to members of the armed forces and other uniformed services who are absent from work due to military service or training. The name of the law is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, commonly called “USERRA.” USERRA seeks to minimize disruption to the lives of service members by ensuring that they are able to retain civilian employment and benefits while serving their country.
Simply put, USERRA provides those who perform military service (a) continuation of certain benefits during their military service, including health care coverage, (b) re-employment rights to employees of civilian employers who are returning from military service or military training, and (c) certain rights and benefits upon return, including seniority.
The idea underlying the USERRA law is to ensure that serving your country is as least damaging to your career as possible, while balancing the varied interests of the military, the employee and the civilian employer.
LESSON TO LEARN: The United States holds its military, including its members of its military and all uniformed services, in high esteem. Not only does the U.S. each year spend more on its military budget than do the next 17 countries combined, but it does a lot to care for service people during and after they serve.
One thing the U.S. does for its military service members that many are not aware of is that it gives them legal rights to (a) continued benefits during their military service, (b) re-employment in their civilian jobs after their service, and (c) no loss of accrued pension time, tenure and the like after their military service.
Those who train and/or serve in the uniformed services, as well as their loved ones, should take the time to understand these very valuable legal rights. They are far and away above any such rights given to others in American society.
The three most important things that you need to understand and take away from the Q’s and A’s below are:
(1) NOTICE: It is important that you give written pre-departure notice, and timely pre-return notice, as well, to your employer;
(2) RECORDS: Service members are advised to do all they can to maintain military records, including signed orders, that may be helpful in asserting USERRA rights; and
(3) RETURN TIME: Depending on the length of your absence for service time or training, the service member will be required to report back to work within a specified period of time.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Take the time to understand the legal rights provided to members of the U.S. uniformed services, just in case someone you know and care about may be affected. The following are the most frequently asked questions about USERRA, and the answers, including who is eligible, what USERRA rights are, and how the law works:
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