The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights act was signed on Oct. 13, 1994, with the goal of protecting the job rights of those who leave their positions to serve their country in the military, according to the United States Department of Labor.
The bill also serves to prevent employer discrimination against military service men and women, which is more common than we may realize.
The Department of Labor notes that at least 42 percent of complaints under the act contained allegations of discrimination on the basis of past, present, or future military service.
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Furthermore, 17 percent of complaints involved allegations of improper reinstatement into civilian jobs following military service.
Considering these statistics, it is important to understand your rights under the bill. Here are six things to know about the USERRA:
1. Your re-employment rights— Those serving in the military service have the right to return to their civilian job under the USERRA, however there are certain conditions upon re-employment, St. Olaf College notes. Employers should receive advanced notice of your service and should be informed of your return in a timely manner. Re-employment is also eligible to those who have five years or less of cumulative military service while with that particular employer.
2. Your health insurance rights— According to the USERRA, a person who leaves their job to serve in the military is entitled to continued health coverage with their current employer for 24 months, Law for Veterans reported. A service member who chooses not to continue their coverage during their time in the military may reinstate their health plan upon returning to their job.
3. Providing advanced notice — Employers should receive advanced notice of military service from their staff however, this does not apply if it is impossible or unreasonable to do so because of military necessity, The Balance Careers reported.
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4. Restrictions on duration of service — Under the USERRA, military service members have re-employment rights if they serve five years or less, thereafter employers are no longer required to support employees, according to Military Connection. Excluded from that five-year culminative total is: inactive duty drills, annual training, involuntary recall to active duty, as well as active duty in support of a war, national emergency, or certain operational missions.
5. Disqualifying circumstances— According to the USERRA, service would be disqualifying if a person is discharged from the service due to dishonorable or bad conduct, The Balance Careers noted. A person will also be disqualified if they are dismissed under situations that require a court martial or by order of the president at the time of war. This also applies if they are discharged due to absence of three months without formal consent, or if they are imprisoned by a civilian court.
6. Enforcement of the act— Complaints of USERRA violations are usually investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), St. Olaf College reported. If these organizations are unable to resolve the complaints, the case may be referred to the Department of Justice or the Office of Special Counsel. Complainants also have the option of bringing a civil action against an employer.
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