Guard & Reserve – Success With Your Employer

Employment Guide: Guard and Reserve Success at Work

As a National Guard or Reserve service member, there will be times when you will have to be away from your civilian job because of military service. There will be your regular drill weekends, when you get mobilized, going away for trainings, and deployments. While USERRA offers protection while serving in the guard or reserves and working in a civilian job, having a good relationship with your employer is a must.

Remember: Communication Is Important

Letting your employer know what is going on with your military service is important and mandatory. Keep them updated on scheduled drill periods and annual trainings and inform them as soon as you can when it comes to unexpected mobilizations or deployments. Not only is this required but it will make for a smoother relationship between you and your civilian employer.

Know that you can’t be required to find a replacement worker for your time off because of military service. You also are allowed to use your vacation time during military service. This would give you a civilian paycheck and a military paycheck at the same time. However, your employer can not force you to do so. That way, you can still take time off from both jobs during the year.

Some businesses and employers will provide pay while you are on military duty, but all that is required by law is giving you unpaid leave. Make sure you understand what your employer does. You can read more about pay in this Career Recon article.

What happens when you are gone?

Whenever you have to be away from your civilian job, adjustments will have to be made, depending on your job. Your employer may have to hire temporary workers to fill your position or they may have to shift job duties around.

While you are away, you may want to be aware of what is going on back at your civilian job. This is dependent on a few different factors. Some MOSs would make communicating with your employer difficult and depending on your civilian job, hearing about what is happening back at the job is unnecessary and distracting. You do need to focus on your military job when you are serving on military duty.

For others, being aware of what is going on back home is important and possible to do. For shorter times away, talking to your employer isn’t necessary unless there is a schedule change. If you are away for a longer period of time, such as a longer training period or a deployment, checking in with your civilian job could be a good idea. Again, this really depends on your role at your civilian job.

What about after you return home?

Depending on the time away, you may need to be retrained on certain aspects of your job. There will also be an adjustment period of time as you get back to your civilian job. This can be the case after a deployment or longer training period.

Be aware of any new policies, new hires, position changes, or people who have left the job while you were away. That can change your workplace environment.

Your employer is also required to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), State Disability Discrimination Laws, and USERRA. This means you do have protections about returning to work. One example is if you can’t perform your regular job due to a disability you receive from military service, your employer must provide the nearest type of job in light of your disability and the limits associated with it. However, they may not be obligated to re-employ or accommodate employees with disabilities if those accommodations make for an undue hardship for the civilian employer.