Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
USERRA replaced the Veterans' Reemployment Rights (VRR.) USERRA guarantees reemployed persons pension plan benefits that accrued during military service, regardless of whether the plan is a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution plan.
USERRA provides health benefits continuation for service members and their families during military service for up to 18 months.
USERRA is enforced by Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS).
Eligibility - The Act applies to persons who perform duty, voluntarily or involuntary, in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service commissioned corps, as well as the reserves of each. Federal training or service in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard is also included. Uniformed service includes active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training (such as drills), and initial active duty training. USERRA covers all employees except those serving in positions where there is "no reasonable expectation that employment will continue indefinitely or for a significant period" i.e. seasonal work.
Basic Provisions/Requirements - Service members returning from a period of service in the uniformed services must meet five eligibility criteria to be covered by USERRA:
~ The person must have held a civilian job;
~ The person must have given notice to the employer that he or she was leaving the job for service in the uniformed services;
~ The period of service must not have exceeded five years;
~ The person must have been released from service under honorable conditions; and
~ The person must have reported back to the civilian job in a timely manner or have submitted a timely application for reemployment.
USERRA establishes a 5-year cumulative total on military service with a single employer, with certain exceptions allowed for call-ups during emergencies, for reserve drills and annually scheduled active duty for training, etc. USERRA also allows an employee to complete an initial period of active duty that exceeds 5 years, not including reenlistments. Under USERRA, restoration rights are based on the duration of military service rather than the type of military duty performed, e.g., active duty for training, inactive duty, etc.
Time limits for returning to work under USERRA, with the exception of fitness-for-service examinations, depend upon the duration of a person's military service. The applicable time limits are as follows:
~ Less than 31 days service: By the beginning of the
first regularly scheduled work period after the end of
the calendar day of duty plus time required to return
home safely. If this is impossible or unreasonable,
then as soon as possible.
~ 31 to 180 days: Application for reemployment must be submitted no later than 14 days after completion of a person's service. If this is impossible or unreasonable through no fault of the person, then as soon as possible.
~ 181 days or more: Application for reemployment must be submitted no later than 90 days after completion of a person's military service.
~ Service-connected injury or illness: Reporting or application deadlines are extended for up to two years for persons who are hospitalized or convalescing.
Information regarding USERRA may be obtained by calling the US Department of Labor at 1-866-487-2365 or going online to: www.dol.gov