Those who serve in our military are some of the most honorable people in our society. And you should be aware that federal law protects employees who take leaves of absence to serve our country and their family members. Here are a few of the laws and what they mean to you and your service members:
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 grants employees who leave their jobs for military service the right to reemployment upon their return. In most cases, you must reemploy a service member who has been on a five-year term of duty or less. Even this term can be extended in certain circumstances.
When the service member returns, they must be placed in the position they would have occupied had they not been called away to service. This means that seniority and other benefits accrue to the service member while they are away. Service members must receive all the training necessary for their jobs upon their return. If a service member cannot qualify for a position despite training, the employer must try to find him/her a new position.
Of course, the service member must provide you reasonable advance notice that he/she is leaving for military service in most cases. And they must request reemployment within a specific time frame which is tied directly to the length of service.
Military leave is usually unpaid by the employer, however, at the employee’s request, the employee may use accrued paid leave and vacation time.
The United States Department of Labor is tasked with enforcing USERRA’s provisions and has helpful information on its website.
Certain provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act apply specifically to those who serve or have served in the military.
Generally, to qualify for protections under the FMLA, an employee must be employed by an employer for 12 months. These months do not have to be consecutive, but an employer does not have to count employment before a break of seven years. However, the employer must do so if the break was caused by military service.
Physical and psychological conditions which are incurred in military service are “serious health conditions” which are covered by the FMLA.
The FMLA also provides special protection to those who are related to service members. Spouses, parents, and children of service members are granted “qualifying exigency” leave for preparations for and wrap up of a service member’s leave. This means relatives of service members must be granted leave for child care issues, military ceremonies, and other related events.
In addition, the “next of kin” of an injured service member may take “military caregiver” leave to care for their loved one. This type of leave is available for 26 weeks in a 12-month period – as opposed to other shorter types of FMLA leave.
Again, the Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing the FMLA and has information on its website.
All of us here at Trojan Labor would like to thank those who have served in our armed forces as well as their families.