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Is my job protected if I go on active duty?

Q: I am a teacher, a military veteran and a member of the reserves. Is my job protected if I am called up for active duty?

A: A federal law - The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA U.S.C.4301-4333) protects you. Signed into law in 1994, USERRA is intended to encourage uniformed service by those who are not pursuing a military career. USERRA protects your civilian employment and tries to minimize the disadvantages of being absent from your job for military service. I can't provide detailed information in this short column, but let me highlight some important provisions:

USERRA allows you to maintain health insurance coverage with your employer during your military service. If you serve more than 30 days you can be charged 102% of the full premium to continue coverage. USERRA also provides that your absence for military service is not considered a break in employment and you will be treated as if you had been continuously employed for pension purposes.

You have reemployment rights under USERRA. Returning service members must be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service. This "escalator principle" means that you will not lose seniority, status, pay or other benefits determined by seniority or length of service because of your military service. While you are in service you must be treated as if you are on a leave of absence and you are entitled to any benefits provided other employees on non-military leaves of absence.

USERRA requires you to give your employer advance notice of your military duty, if possible. You have to apply for reemployment or report back to work after your military service. The length of your military service determines the time period in which you must make application or return to work to be protected under the Act.

This is just a very quick overview of USERRA. For more information contact the United States Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS). Thanks for your service and best wishes.


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