Federal Law: USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) was signed into law on October 13, 1994. USERRA clarified and strengthened the Veterans’ Reemployment Rights Act.

USERRA potentially covers every individual in the country who serves in or has served in the uniformed services, and applies to all employers in the public and private sectors, including federal employers.

The law seeks to ensure that those who serve their country can retain their civilian employment and benefits, and can seek employment free from discrimination because of their service.

In general, USERRA provides that returning service members are entitled to re-employment in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service (a provision known as the “escalator” principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority.

However, USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning service members to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment.

The law provides for alternative reemployment positions if the service member cannot qualify for the “escalator” position.

USERRA also reaffirms and clarifies that while an individual is performing military service, he or she is deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and is entitled to the non-seniority rights accorded other individuals on non-military leaves of absence.

Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer sponsored health care for up to 18 months; however, they may be required to pay up to 102 percent of the full premium.

For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the service member had remained employed.

USERRA clarifies pension plan coverage by making explicit that all pension plans are protected.

In addition, USERRA provides enhanced protection for disabled veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability.

Connecticut Law

Connecticut law requires employers to grant a leave of absence to any employee who is required to attend military reserve or national guard meetings or drills during regular working hours.

Connecticut law also forbids discrimination against members of the armed forces.

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