• Pin It Up
  • April 14, 2005
  • Law Firm: McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC - New Orleans Office
  • The Department of Labor has published interim final rules which require private and government employers to notify employees who might leave or be called for military service of their right to return to their jobs at the same pay, benefits, and status. It is suggested that the notice be posted where other federal and state notices are customarily placed. Employers may, as an alternative, distribute the notice to employees by hand, mail, or e-mail, but all employees must be made aware of their USERRA rights. DOL's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) issued the rule, including the text of the notice of rights and benefits, to implement a new requirement signed into law by President Bush in December as part of the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act.

    The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act -- USERRA -- provides employment and reemployment rights for employees who leave their jobs voluntarily or involuntarily to serve in the military, including the Reserve and National Guard, and prohibits employers from discriminating against veterans, members of the military services, and applicants for military service. More than 460,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve have been mobilized for military action since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and as these and other service members conclude their tours of duty and return to civilian employment, "it is important that employees be fully informed of their USERRA rights," VETS said. The requirement, according to VETS, applies to approximately 8 million private sector employers and 300,000 state and local government employers.

    The notice, "Your Rights Under USERRA," informs employees about their reemployment rights, protection from discrimination and retaliation, employer-based health insurance coverage guarantees, and administrative and legal enforcement procedures. The cost of compliance is nominal. VETS has developed a poster that employers can download from DOL's Web site at http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/poster.pdf which can be displayed in the workplace. The poster can also be ordered free of charge by calling 1-866-487-2365 (toll-free).

    Although the interim final rule became effective March 10, 2005, the agency is accepting public comment on the notice regulations and text for 60 days, after which the final rule will be issued. Because of the abbreviated timeframe mandated by Congress, officials indicated that DOL will give employers leeway in complying with the effective date.