The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of Reserve components.
USERRA establishes that an employee may be absent from work for military duty and still retain reemployment rights for up to a total of five years. There are occasions when that five-year limit may be extended. When an employee does return to work, the returning service-members is to be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits that are determined by seniority.
USERRA does require that employees provide advance written or verbal notice to their employers for all military duty unless giving notice is impossible, unreasonable, or precluded by military necessity. An employee should provide notice as far in advance as is reasonable under the circumstances. Additionally, service members are able (but are not required) to use accrued vacation or annual leave while performing military duty.
USERRA also provides protection for disabled veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability. Service members recovering from injuries received during service or training may have up to two years to return to their jobs or apply for reemployment.
If the returning service member is no longer qualified for their former position, or the position they would hold had they remained at work, USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning service members to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment.
USERRA also provides for health and pension plan coverage for service members.
Employees must make application or report back to work within specific periods of time to be covered under USERRA, depending on how long the employee was off on military service:
|Less than 31 days:
|the beginning of the next regularly scheduled work period on the first full day after release from service (allowing safe travel home + an eight hour rest)
|More than 30 days but less than 181 days:
|the employee must submit an application for reemployment within 14 days of release from service.
|For service of more than 180 days:
|an application for reemployment must be submitted within 90 days of release from service.
USERRA allows damages of lost wages and if willful, liquidated damages, as well as attorney’s fees and costs for violations.