Question: Am I required to continue benefits for an employee who is a member of the National Guard and who was called to service to assist during a natural disaster?

Answer: Yes. According to the Joint Services Support and Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protections, your employee is required to be categorized as on leave while performing National Guard duty. In this status, your employee is entitled to the non-seniority rights and benefits generally provided by you to other employees who are on leave and who have similar seniority, status, and pay. This entitlement is not dependent on how you characterize your employee’s status during his or her period of military service. If the non-seniority benefits that your employees on leave are entitled to vary by the type of leave, then your National Guard employees must be given the most favorable treatment accorded to any comparable form of leave when they perform service in the uniformed services.

USERRA comes into play in this scenario because it covers all categories of military training and service, including the National Guard. USERRA ensures that your National Guard employee is not disadvantaged in his or her civilian career because of military service, is promptly reemployed in his or her civilian job upon return from duty, and is not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service.

Be sure to check for state laws in your location for other requirements that may apply. Read more on USERRA and employee rights.

These questions and more can be answered by accessing our HR Compliance Suite.