Deployment Shouldn’t Result in Unemployment

It’s not easy serving your country as a military reservist while holding down a full-time civilian job. You could get deployed for years at a time—and what will happen to your job while you’re away?

USERRA is the law that ensures you’ll have a job to return to after your service. Here’s how it works.

What Is USERRA?

USERRA is the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act. It provides job protection for military reservists while they’re deployed.

Under USERRA, you are entitled to be re-employed in the position you would have had if you hadn’t left for military service, with the same status, pay, and seniority. This is sometimes referred to as the “escalator principle,” and the idea is that you shouldn’t have to suffer civilian career setbacks because of your military service.

If you need to retrain or update your skills to qualify for the position you’re entitled to, your employer should facilitate that for you.

If there’s no way to qualify for the “escalator” position you would have had if you hadn’t been deployed, you are entitled to re-employment in another equivalent position.

How Long Does USERRA Protect Your Job?

In the most general terms, USERRA will protect your job for five years. But sometimes the term is longer. Under USERRA, your job protection doesn’t necessarily have a time limit on it—as long as you meet basic criteria.

Some military personnel are subject to recalls and involuntary extensions to active duty that can stretch deployment past the five-year mark. This is especially true during a national emergency.

There are also protections for disabled veterans under USERRA. The law requires employers to allow service members as many as two years to recover from injuries before returning to the job, and to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities.

What Employers Are Covered by USERRA?

The law applies to all private and  public employers in the United States—of any size. Even a company with a single employee has to comply with USERRA.

The law also applies to foreign companies that do business in the United States. So if your employer is headquartered outside the U.S., but has a physical location in the country, it has to satisfy USERRA requirements for all its U.S.-based employees.

Finally, American companies operating in foreign countries also have to comply with USERRA—unless doing so would break the law in the country where they operate.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation Now

Not sure if you have a case under USERRA? We strongly suggest you talk to a lawyer with specialized expertise in this area. Email us at murphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com, or call 267-273-1054 for a free, confidential consultation.