Employers Must Post Job Rights for Veterans
On March 10, the federal government started requiring home builders and other employers to display a poster advising workers of their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Signed into law in 1994, the act is designed to protect the job rights of individuals who voluntarily or involuntarily leave their positions for military service.
Following legislation passed in December, employers are now required to post the notice in a prominent place where employees customarily check for such information.
“We are committed to ensuring that our brave men and women who are protecting our country’s freedoms have the opportunities they deserve when they return to civilian life,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chow. “We will work tirelessly to continue to keep National Guard and Reserve service members, their families and employers informed about USERRA, the law that protects their jobs and benefits.”
Among the rights that the statute gives to veterans:
- Those who have left their civilian job for military service have the right to be reemployed if the cumulated service is five years or less and they have returned to work in a timely manner at the end of their service, with the exception of a dishonorable discharge.
- If a veteran is eligible to be reemployed, they must be restored to the job and benefits they would have had if they had not been absent due to military service. In some cases, they can return to a comparable job.
- Exceptions to the five-year limit for military service include initial enlistment lasting longer than five years, periodic training duty and involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, especially during a time of national emergency. The law clearly establishes that reemployment protection does not depend on the timing, frequency, duration or nature of an individual’s service.
- Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disabilities of disabled veterans. Service members who are convalescing from injuries have up to two years to return to their jobs.
- Individuals who leave their jobs for military service have the right to elect to continue their existing employer-based health plan coverage for themselves and their dependents for up to 24 months. Pension plans are protected.
- Even if they didn’t continue health coverage during their military service, veterans have the right to be reinstated in their employer’s health plan when they are reemployed, generally without any waiting period or exclusions for pre-existing conditions, excepting exclusions for service-connected illnesses or injuries.
The USERRA poster is now available at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/poster.pdf.
For more information about USERRA, call 866-4-USA-DOL, or visit www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/.
Each state may have its own mandatory labor law posting requirements, which may differ from the information presented here. To find out what labor law posters are mandatory for your state, consult your local and regional Department of Labor program at www.dol.gov/dol/location.htm.