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.


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.



Guard & Reserve – Being Discreet About Your Reservist Status

Step-by-Step Guide to Employment: Guard/Reserve – Being Discreet About Your Reservist Status

As a National Guard service member or a member in the Reserves, you could be wondering if it is okay to share your reservist status when you are in a job interview. Does a future employer have the right to that information? Are you legally bound to tell them? Why might there be reasons to do so?

These are all important questions to the guard/reserve service members looking for a new job. The truth is, some future employers will be okay with you disclosing your service and some won’t be, and you might not know if the reason you don’t get the job is because of your status if you do bring it up. In fact, it is probably better not to.

Disclosing Is Not Required

There is no legal requirement for a guard or reserve member to have to disclose that during a job interview. Due to USERRA, the employer may not deny you employment because you are in the service, however, it is a little bit more complicated than that.


USERRA stands for The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. This was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 to protect the civilian employment of active and reserve military personnel in the United States when called to active duty.

Under USERRA you have:

  • Reemployment Rights – where you have the right to be reemployed in your civilian job if you have to leave the job to perform service in the military.
  • The Right to Be Free From Discrimination and Retaliation – this includes that an employer may not deny you initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment because of your status.
  • Health Insurance Protection – which means if you leave the job because of military service, you have the right to elect to continue your existing employer-based health plan coverage for you and your dependents for up to 24 months while in the military. You also have the right to be reinstated into their health plan when you are reemployed.

The U.S. The Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) is authorized to investigate and resolve complaints of USERRA violations. You can read more about USERRA here.

Should You Disclose Your Status?

In most cases, it is probably best to not disclose your status when you are interviewing for jobs. You should keep your guard and reservist status discreet. This means that you don’t have to offer that information, but you also don’t want to lie about it if it comes up.

As stated above, USERRA does prohibit companies from denying employment to you as a reservist. However, that can be a thin line when it comes to legal protection. The truth is, some employers might not want to hire you because of it. They might assume you would need time off every week or be gone more than you actually would be. An employer could also easily get around the USERRA rules during the hiring process.

That being said, in some situations, sharing your reservist status might be better to share. You might feel like your service is an asset to your work history, or you know that the company is military and veteran friendly and has hired many reservists in the past. You will need to decide if you need to be discreet about your service or not.

Keep in mind that after you do start your job, USERRA will require you to provide your employer notice of military service in a timely manner. This is so they can plan accordingly and would make for a better relationship overall.



Guard & Reserve – Organizations That Help the National Guard & Reserves Find Employment

Step-by-Step Guide to Employment: Guard/Reserve – Organizations That Help the National Guard and Reserves Find Employment

As a guard or reserve member you will want to have a full-time civilian job that fits your schedule as well as your skill set. Those in the guard and reserves can bring unique skills to civilian workplaces. Finding a job takes planning as well as time, and finding resources to help is a must. Here is a list of some resources to help with the job search for those serving in the National Guard or the Reserves. 

Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program Center for Excellence 

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a DoD-wide effort to promote the well-being of guard and reserve members, their families, and their communities by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program Center for Excellence has teamed up with Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State to provide military families with high-quality resources that have been reviewed and considered to be the best of the best. All the resources they share have been vetted for relevance, organization, ease of use, and resource content. 

On their website, they have resources listed such as GCF, which helps with interviewing skills, or Ladders, which has a resume builder and helps you build a resume online. They also have Career One Stop, LinkedIn, O*NET Online Military Crosswalk, Rally Point, and listed as resources. 

American Job Centers

There are 2,400 American Job Centers within the states and territories. They provide local assistance to job seekers and employers. They offer guardsmen and reservists as well as veterans access to the center as well as financial counseling, resume and interview help, education and retraining, job search methods, registered apprenticeships, and have a vast employer network. 

Military One Source 

At Military One Source you can find the Joint National Guard Employment Support Program page. On the page, they have a series of articles listed such as, “Returning to Work After Your Serve,” “How to Keep Your Civilian Boss on Your Side,” and “The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.” 

USA Jobs

USA Jobs is the U.S. government’s website for civil service job opportunities with federal agencies. Within their job search, they do have federal jobs open to those in the National Guard and the Reserves. You would need to look for the correct icon or do a search using the National Guard filter. You can also find jobs where you can join the guard and then be able to apply for the job if you are not currently serving that way.  

The Army Reserve Private Public Partnership (P3) Program 

This program ensures that Army Reserve soldiers are succeeding in their civilian careers. They collaborate with organizations offering job opportunities and a nationwide network of corporate, profit and non-profit, and academic partners. They work to connect soldiers with internships, employment, and educational opportunities. 

In addition, you can check out our Recruiting & Staffing Profiles page on Career Recon. Here are a couple of examples:

JobZone Online

JobZone Online offers job fairs that bring top employers including defense and commercial companies, federal agencies, placement and staffing companies, colleges and universities. 

Parker + Lynch

Parker + Lynch is a leader in executive recruiting and consulting for more than 25 years. They focus on executive positions. They have also partnered with the National Guard and the Army Reserves. 

Exit mobile version