For service members in civilian jobs who may be deployed while on reserve or in the National Guard, it’s imperative that they and their families can feel financially stable while they’re on assignment. A solid military leave policy can help your employees in the military to feel confident that their job and civilian life is secure.
If you want to learn more about the different types of paid and unpaid time off, you can check out this post: 12 Types of Paid and Unpaid Leave and Time Off | Workology
What is Military Leave?
Military leave for servicemembers is protected under USERRA, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. USERRA ensures that employees are protected while they’re on leave related to their service in the military and when they return, and face no discrimination for their obligations. Whether the employee is being assigned to active duty, training, or any other required duty related to their military service, they are protected by this policy.
How is Military Leave Protected?
USERRA dictates that when an employee in the military returns from leave, they are guaranteed the same benefits, security, and salary (even salary increases or promotions, if the employee was eligible for them while on leave). During the leave, the employee is essentially eligible for all benefits related to their employment as if they were actively working during the whole leave. The Department of Labor (DOL) and USERRA call this the “escalator principle.” An employee gets off the escalator to perform their duty in the military. When they step back on the escalator to return, the step they were on has raised, as if they had never stepped off the escalator.
Usually, notice is required. In most cases, it must be reasonable for the employer to accommodate the leave. If upon return, it is unreasonable or impossible for the employer to guarantee the same job or same benefits, the employee must be provided the closest possible match.
Military Leave Sample Policy
At [Company], we are dedicated to making sure that our employees in the military are protected in the event they need to take any time off for military service, as dictated by the federal protection in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (or USERRA).
The employee should request a military leave of absence as soon as possible. Upon returning, they must request reemployment.
An employee taking military leave is allowed to continue their health insurance and disability coverage under the same terms and conditions as if they were still actively employed.
Employees do not accrue vacation, personal leave, or sick leave while on a military leave of absence.
Employees taking military leave, for the purposes of salary, promotions, bonuses, or raises, are considered to have been actively working continuously for the entire duration of their leave. This means that upon return, employees are eligible for any raises or promotions they would have been eligible for during their leave.
Employees are not eligible for these reemployment exceptions if they have been dishonorably discharged or if the continued employment would create an undue hardship upon [Company] or be impossible to implement.