By Debbie Gregory.
Veterans have rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). They should be aware of their civilian employment rights and their re-employment rights under USERRA.
Did you know that employees who satisfy the eligibility requirement under USERRA are entitled to re-employment, as long as they are a member of the U.S. Armed Services and meet the following conditions?
- The Veteran employee must have civilian employment.
- The Veteran employee must have given their employer notice prior to military service.
- The Veteran employee’s time away from employment due to military service must be less than five years.
- The Veteran employee must have at least a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions. Although generally, personnel seeking USERRA protection are required to have an Honorable Discharge from the military.
- When discharged, Veteran employees must report back to work within a certain specified period of time.
Veteran employees must have given notice to their employer before leaving the military. Notice to the employer may be either written or oral, and does not need to follow any particular kind of format.
Veteran employees should know that they do not need to have received the employer’s permission before leaving for military service in order to protect their re-employment rights. Veteran Employees do not even need to have made a decision whether or not to return back to work when they ship out for military service.
Under USERRA, eligible Veteran employees are to be re-employed, not in the same job that they had, but what job they could have attained had they not been absent for military service. Veteran Employees are also to be provided with the same seniority, status and pay, in addition to other rights and benefits, determined by the seniority they would have attained.
USERRA requires that reasonable efforts be made to train returning Veteran Employees in order to help them qualify for re-employment.
Veteran employees are required to notify their pre-service employer of their intent to return to their previous position by either reporting to work or submitting a timely application for re-employment. Applications do not need to be in writing.
Veterans who fail to comply with USERRA’s application requirements are not automatically disqualified for entitlement to USERRA’s protection, but shall be subject to the conduct rules, established policy, and general practices of the employer pertaining to explanations and discipline with respect to absence from scheduled work.
The US Congress enacted USERRA in order to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of military service, as well as to provide prompt re-employment to those individuals who engage in non-career service in the military.