Guard & Reserve – Success at Work

Employment Guide: Guard and Reserve-Success at Work

As a guard or reserve member, you will be balancing your civilian job with your military job. This will mean knowing what your responsibilities are under USERRA (The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act), which is what protects the civilian employment of active and reserve military personnel in the United States when called to active duty. You also want to be aware of your rights regarding your military service and reemployment. You can read about some of this in the Guard/Reserve-Assistance For You and Your Employer article on Career Recon.

Check the HR Policy

When you start at a new company, knowing their HR policy on leave, time off for training, and what to expect when you can’t work your civilian job because of military service is a must. You want to know what is expected from day one. While there are rules and regulations that employers must abide by, there might be differences based on your role and the company.

The times you would leave your civilian job for military service would be for training and regular drills, mobilization, and deployment. For your regular drill weekends, you might not have to miss work depending on your job hours and if your drill weekend is only on Saturdays and Sundays. However, sometimes your drill weekend can include days of the work week. Trainings would take you away for longer periods of time, such as two or three weeks during AT (annual training). A mobilization can happen for a natural disaster or other national emergencies. This can happen unexpectedly and is typically not planned far in advance. Deployment can take you away for months or even longer, depending on your orders.

Within the policy at your company, you would be able to see how you take leave when you are called up. Will your leave be paid or unpaid? Do they offer military leave days? What is the policy for when you must be away and must let the employer know?

Remember always to be prepared to give copies of your drill schedule when you get it, update your employer when there are changes, and give copies of your orders when you are issued them. This way, you are following the requirements of USERRA and keeping your company up to date with what is going on.

Do you get paid while being away for military service?

You might be wondering how your pay will work when you are away for military training. Knowing what the laws are is important. You will get paid for your service by the military for the time you are serving.

As far as your civilian job goes, if you are a non-exempt employee, there is no requirement for your civilian employer to pay you while you are gone for military service. If you are an exempt employee, there is no requirement to pay you for workweeks where you do not work your civilian job during that week. If you work at your civilian job during that workweek, such as Monday and Tuesday, and then work military service the rest of the week, according to FLSA (the Fair Labor Standards Act), your employer is required to pay you for that workweek.

Can my employer require me to use my PTO or sick days for military leave?

No, while your employer can certainly allow you to use PTO or sick days for military service, they can not require you. You have a right to still have those available during the year, regardless of whether you were away for military service.

Where can I learn more about USERRA and the laws that protect me as a guard or reserve member?

Check out the ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) for more information on USERRA and your rights and responsibilities as a guard or reserve member working a civilian job. ESGR is a Department of Defence office that is set up to help educate about applicable laws.