America’s military is relying more and more on part-time, citizen soldiers to accomplish its many missions. Both Reserve and National Guard members have been called to active duty and are serving in posts all over the world. While these troops are proud to serve wherever they are called, there is no doubt that a lengthy tour of active duty, away from one#39;s regular employment, can be a burden on both the soldier and his or her family. There are a number of legal protections for Reservists and Guard members called to active duty that can help to ease that burden. An attorney with experience in employment law can advise about all of your rights under the law.
A major concern of those called to active military duty is getting their old jobs back once they return to civilian life. An employee who is called to military duty is considered to be on unpaid leave of absence. Federal law provides that you have the right to be re-employed in the job you would have if you had not been called to active duty. You are entitled to the same seniority, salary, and other benefits that come with seniority, although there are some limitations on this right to reemployment.
A returning Guard member or Reservist who wants his or her old job back must reapply for the job. If the absence has been for less than thirty-one days, the employee must report for work at the beginning of the next regular work period on the first full day following release from duty, with time for travel home, and an eight-hour rest period. If the absence has been for more than thirty-one, but less than 181 days, the returning employee must submit an application for reemployment within fourteen days of being released from service. If the absence due to military service has been longer than 180 days, reapplication must be made within ninety days of the service member#39;s release from duty. The maximum absence that will allow a service member to retain reemployment rights is five years.
Returning employees are entitled to receive a reasonable amount of help, if necessary, to return to employment. This help could include retraining or additional training to upgrade or refresh skills. The help could also include placement in an alternative position with the same employer.
An employee who is absent for thirty days or less can continue his or her medical coverage, at the same cost, during the time of service. Service of more than thirty days will give the service member and his or her dependents coverage under the military health care plan.
An absence for military service is not to be considered a break in your employment. A service member who returns to his or her former employment is entitled to re-enroll in the employer’s medical or health insurance plan. No waiting period or period of exclusion may be imposed. A health plan sponsored by an employer is not, however, required to provide coverage for injuries or illnesses caused or aggravated by military service (those injuries are generally covered by military health coverage).
There is no question that being called to active duty is a hardship on both the service member, and on his or her family. Laws that relate to reemployment and continuation of benefits can help ease some of that burden. An attorney with expertise in employment law can advise you about all of your rights and obligations under the law.