As the year winds down, November is always an eventful month – elections occur, the weather continues to cool down, preparation for Thanksgiving celebration and we celebrate our military veterans. United States service men and women are honored every Veteran’s Day for their contribution to the American dream – to live peacefully, free from oppression while upholding the values of our constitution against foreign and domestic enemies. However, honoring our veterans exceeds just one day. As an employer, it is essential to understand the many laws that protect the employment rights of service men and women to ensure that their time away from work (while on active duty) does not detrimentally effect their return to work. The most notable law concerning military service people and employment is the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or USERRA. Here are a few highlights regarding the law:
- Protects Reemployment Rights: uniformed service persons have the right to be reemployed to their civilian job if they left that job to perform service in the uniformed service
- Right to Be Free From Discrimination and Retaliation: a former, current or under consideration uniformed service person cannot be denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment because of their uniformed service status
- Health Insurance Protection: a uniformed service person has the right to elect to continue existing employer based health plan coverage for themselves and their dependents for up to 24 months while in the military
There are requirements for the uniformed service person to fulfill, such as completion of paperwork, adequate notice to an employer regarding active duty leave and/or return from duty, etc., however, absent exception as required under USERRA, there is minimal to no allowable deviation from compliance with the law. The law is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor – both departments are very aggressive in investigating alleged violations of the applicable federal laws.
Other laws concerning uniformed service and employment rights are the federal Family Medical Leave Act and the California Military and Veterans Code which includes the recently approved Assembly Bill 1710 concerning prohibited discrimination against uniformed service members. For more information regarding these laws visit, dol.gov and leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
United Staffing Associates is an equal opportunity employer and encourages former and current military service people to apply for work opportunities at a local branch office.