New Regulations Issued to Clarify Employment Rights of Military Service Members
On December 19, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) issued final regulations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) intended to make USERRA and its protections more readily understandable by employers and service members. USERRA provides employment and reemployment rights for members of the uniformed services, including veterans, reservists and National Guard members.
Under USERRA, service members who leave their civilian jobs for military service are able to return to their jobs with the same pay, benefits and status they would have attained had they not been away on duty. USERRA also protects against discrimination in employment because of military service.
These newly regulations are the first regulations promulgated under USERRA since its enactment in 1994. They are written in question-and-answer format and address obligations regarding such issues as: employee make-up contributions to pension plans; employer contributions to pension plans; continuing employment-based health plan coverage; statute of limitations; and the interaction of USERRA with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The regulations take effect on January 18, 2006.
In addition, VETS issued a final rule concerning the notice required under Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 (VBIA). The VBIA requires that “[e]ach employer shall provide to persons entitled to rights and benefits under [USERRA] a notice of the rights, benefits, and obligations of such persons and such employers…” This notice requirement can be met by distributing the notice or posting the poster version of the notice.
A copy of the regulations, a downloadable poster, and other helpful resources on USERRA are found on DOL’s Web site at www.dol.gov/vets. Guidance is also found on AGC’s Web site, on the Topical Resources page of the Labor & HR section. To get to that page, click here.
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