Returning Veterans

employment law for returning veteransUnder USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994), if you leave your job to participate in any uniformed Service, you are entitled to regain your job within five years of your departure, possibly longer in certain circumstances. If you need any training in order to perform your old job, you are entitled to receive it. You are entitled to any changes in benefits you would have received had you not left your old job. This is known as the “escalator” principle. If, for example, you would have received a raise because of your seniority had you not left your old job, you are entitled to that raise when you return.

However, do not wait long after your service to reapply for your old job! Even though you’re entitled to the job for up to five years after you leave it, for service of more than 180 days, an application for reemployment must be submitted within 90 days of release from service. And for service less than 180 days, the reapplication must be submitted even quicker.

You are entitled to retain any health insurance plan from your employer upon beginning military duty for up to two years. However, you may need to pay substantially higher premiums to retain your health insurance plan. Once you return from military duty and are reemployed, your employer must make the employer contributions in your 401(k) (if you had one) that would have been made if you had been employed during the period of military duty. If employee contributions are required or permitted under the plan, the employee has a period equal to three times the period of military duty or five years, whichever ends first, to make up the contributions. If the employee makes up the contributions, the employer must make up any matching contributions.

For more information about your employment rights as a returning veteran, go to: https://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/userra_fs.htm