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Jan 2006
05
January 05, 2006

Department of Labor Issues USERRA Regulations

On December 19, 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service ("VETS") issued its final regulations regarding the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 ("USERRA"). The regulations take effect on January 18, 2006. VETS phrased the regulations in question-and-answer format in hopes that they will be more readily understandable to employers and service members.

USERRA provides various leave entitlements, employment and reemployment rights for members and former members of the uniformed services, including Reservists and National Guard members. Under USERRA, employees who leave their civilian jobs for military service are able to return to their jobs with generally the same pay, benefits and status they would have attained had they not been away on duty. USERRA also protects against discrimination in employment because of military service, and provides protection against discharge except for just cause for certain returning servicemen and servicewomen.

The DOL's new regulations address such issues as employee notice and return-to-work obligations, and employer obligations regarding insurance continuation during military leave, job reinstatement, and employee participation in retirement and pension plans upon return to work. The regulations also discuss the interaction of USERRA with the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Information about USERRA and the regulations can be found at www.dol.gov. To download a copy of the regulations, click on this link: http://www.dol.gov/vets/regs/fedreg/final/2005023961.pdf.

In addition to the new regulations, VETS also issued a final rule concerning the notice required under the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 ("VBIA"). VBIA requires employers to provide employees with a notice of their rights, benefits and obligations under USERRA. This notice requirement can be met by distributing a notice or posting the DOL's poster. Downloadable posters are available at www.dol.gov/vets for use and/or distribution by employers. One of these posters is for federal agency employers and the other poster is for use by private and state employers.

If you have any questions regarding USERRA issues and how they affect your company, please feel free to contact a member of our Labor and Employment Group or Rob Dubault at 231.727.2638 or rdubault@wnj.com.
 

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