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USERRA includes guidelines for the employers of service members, such as the following:
Employers cannot discriminate, but they are generally not required to give preferential treatment to service members.
When an employee who works for the federal government is due to miss work, the employer may contact his/her military commander to explain the difficulties caused by the employee’s military service. The employer may request changes to make the employee’s service less burdensome. However, the military is not required to agree to these changes.
If a returning service member does not request reemployment in a timely manner, the employee may be disciplined. This discipline must be consistent with the way the employer normally disciplines other workers who are absent without leave or authorization for a similar period of time.
Employers may not have to reemploy service members if:
Changes in the employer’s circumstances make reemployment impossible or unreasonable (e.g., the employer is going out of business);
The original employment was temporary, with no reasonable expectation that it would continue indefinitely or for a significant period (e.g., a housing contractor hiring a carpenter just for one specific job);
The service member sustained an injury that would create an “undue hardship” on the employer if he were reemployed. Employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate injured service members, but if such accommodations are impossible, unreasonable, or use a prohibitive amount of resources, reemployment may not be required (federal employers must refer such cases to the Office of Personnel Management to provide placement assistance);
The service member received an unfavorable discharge (this is rare);
The service member exceeded the five-year limit as defined in §38 U.S.C. Sec. 4312(c). NOTE: There are many exceptions to the general five-year rule, where certain types of service will not count toward the five-year total. The exceptions are listed in subsections 1 through 4 of §38 U.S.C. Sec. 4312(c).
Important Notice for Employers:
The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004, Public Law 108-454 (Dec. 10, 2004) requires employers to provide notice of the rights, benefits, and obligations of employees and employers under USERRA. To assist employers in complying with this requirement, the U.S. Department of Labor developed a USERRA informational poster to be posted at workplaces, available here.