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A M ALGA M ATED TRANSIT UNION Know Your Rights RETURNING FROM MILITARY SERVICE


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ederal law protects the job rights of those who leave employment positions to undertake service in the U.S. armed forces. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits job discrimination based on an individuals prospective, present, or past U.S. military service. Of even greater significance, the statute which applies to every U.S. employer, public or private, regardless of the size of its workforce provides certain health insurance protections and substantial reemployment rights. A worker who leaves his or her job to perform military service has a right, at the individuals own expense, to continue health insurance coverage (including that for dependants where otherwise provided) under any existing employer-based health plan for up to 24 months while in the military.

Right to Return to Work Once released from service, a veteran or reservist has a right to return to work with their prior employer where: • The employer received advance notice, where possible, of the military service;

Returning service members are, in other words, treated as if they had been continuously employed. (A reemployed individual is, however, entitled to accrued benefits resulting from employee contributions to a retirement plan only to the extent that he or she actually makes those contributions. The worker has a period equal to three times their length of military duty or five years, whichever ends first, to make up any employee contributions.) Reinstatement to the employers health plan is, moreover, generally required without any waiting periods or exclusions (for preexisting conditions, for example) except for serviceconnected illnesses or injuries.

Complaints The U.S. Department of Labor has the authority to investigate and resolve USERRA complaints. More information about a workers rights under the federal statute is available from the Labor Departments Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), which can be reached at 1-866-4872365. The VETS website, http://www.dol.gov/vets, can also be very helpful.

• The individual has five years or less of cumulative service in the uniformed services (not counting the two-week annual training sessions and monthly weekend drills mandated for reservists and National Guard members) while with that particular employer; and • The individual reports back to work or seeks reemployment in a timely manner following the conclusion of their service (e.g., submitting an application for reemployment no later than 14 days after completing service of between 31 to 180 days or 90 days after completing service for a longer period). Where eligible for reemployment under USERRA, an individual must be restored to the job and benefits he or she would have obtained if not absent due to military service or, in some cases, a comparable job. The law requires that the period of military duty be counted, service with the prior employer for purposes of any seniority-based job benefits as well as a pension plans eligibility, vesting and benefit accrual criteria.

Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO/CLC 5025 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20016 202.537.1645 www.atu.org

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KYR_ReturningfromMilitaryService  

Know Your Rights RETURNING FROM MILITARY SERVICE The U.S. Department of Labor has the authority to investigate and resolve USERRA complaints...

KYR_ReturningfromMilitaryService  

Know Your Rights RETURNING FROM MILITARY SERVICE The U.S. Department of Labor has the authority to investigate and resolve USERRA complaints...

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