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COVID-19 Impact & USERRA

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SHARING FROM THE U.S. Department of Labor / Published April 21, 2020

During these challenging times, our nation’s Guardsmen and Reservists are answering the call to duty to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. We owe a duty to them to ensure full compliance with the employment and reemployment rights of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)

The Veteran’s Employment and Training Service (VETS) interprets and provides guidance on USERRA and investigates complaints filed under this law. VETS offers the following frequently asked questions and answers:

Does this fact sheet create new USERRA rights and obligations in light of COVID-19?

No. The statute and regulations still govern USERRA rights and obligations. This factsheet addresses some scenarios that might arise from the application of USERRA in the context of this pandemic.

Does a member of the National Guard or Reserves who is called to active duty in response to the COVID-19 emergency have employment and reemployment protections under USERRA?
  • Yes, if called to duty under federal authority. National Guard or Reserve duty under federal authority (such as Title 10 or Title 32) is covered by USERRA.
    • National Guard duty under state authority, commonly referred to as State Active Duty, is not covered under USERRA. However, members of the National Guard serving on State Active Duty may have similar employment protections under state law and should contact the appropriate state office for assistance.
    • Note that the authority under which orders are issued can change, even in the course of a service member’s performance of service.
Can a service member be furloughed or laid off upon return from uniformed service?
  • Yes, if it is reasonably certain that he or she would have been furloughed or laid off had he or she not been absent for uniformed service.
May an employer delay a service member’s reemployment out of concern that the service member’s service in a COVID-19 affected area may have exposed him or her to COVID-19?
  • No. If the employee satisfies the prerequisites to reemployment, the employee should be promptly reemployed in the job position that he or she would have attained with reasonable certainty if not for the absence due to uniformed service.
    • Promptness generally depends on the length of time an individual was away, ranging from the next day after returning from duty, if the deployment was relatively short, to up to fourteen days in the case of a multi-year deployment.
    • When reemploying a service member who might have been exposed to COVID-19, an employer must make reasonable efforts in order to qualify the returning employee for his or her proper reemployment position. This can include temporarily providing paid leave, remote work, or another position during a period of quarantine for an exposed reemployed service member or COVID-19 infected reemployed service member, before reemploying the individual into his or her proper reemployment position.
Where to Obtain Additional Information:

Important USERRA-related resources and compliance assistance materials for employees and employers are available through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service website at www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs/userra, which contains a USERRA elaws Advisor, FAQs, fact sheets, and links to the statute and implementing regulations. Our toll-free information and helpline, available 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, is 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365). The Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve also provides resources available at www.esgr.mil.

U.S. Department of Labor                             1-866-4-USA-DOL
200 Constitution Ave NW                              TTY: 1-877-TTY-5627
Washington, DC 20210

/Portals/13/USERRA-COVID-19-Impact.pdf

 

By Debbie Gregory.

HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration Award shines a light on the employers who hire our nation’s veterans. Many veteran business owners fall into that category.

The program is set to kick off in 2019 and utilizes the requirements and criteria of the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017 (HIRE Vets Act) to determine the recipients.

The program will recognize large employers (500-plus employees), medium employers (51-499 employees), and small employers (50 or fewer employees). Additionally, there are two award tiers: Gold and Platinum.

The demonstration will use the same criteria as the full HIRE Vets Medallion Program and enable more employers to prepare to successfully complete the medallion award application for the full implementation of the program in 2019.

The criteria for most of the awards are based upon the following measures:
1. Percentage of new hires during the previous year that are veterans;
2. Percentage of veteran employees retained for a period of at least 12 months;
3. Percentage of employees who are veterans;
4. Provision of an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring;
5. Provision of programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment;
6. Employment of a dedicated human resources professional or initiatives to support hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees;
7. Provision of compensation, to employees serving on active duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve, that is sufficient, in combination with the employee’s active duty pay, to achieve a combined level of income commensurate with the employee’s salary prior to undertaking active duty;
8. Provision of a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees’ attendance in postsecondary education during the term of their employment; and
9. Employer with an adverse labor law decision, stipulated agreement, contract debarment, or contract termination, as defined in the rule, pursuant to either of the following labor laws will not be eligible to receive an Award: Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); or Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).

“Military service develops leadership skills, technical expertise, and problem-solving capabilities — all in demand by America’s companies,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “The HIRE Vets Medallion Program provides a tremendous opportunity for employers to recruit talented veterans and demonstrate support for those who have sacrificed so much for their country.”

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