Obligations to Reservists Met and Exceeded

December 26, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - After George W. Bush declared the War on Terrorism the US has deployed the largest number of military reservists since the Gulf War - bringing questions for employers, regarding their legal and moral obligations toward their employees.

Most employers were prepared. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, a Watson Wyatt survey (see Most Employers Have Reservist Policies in Place ) found that:

  • 80% of employers surveyed already had compensation policies in place for reservists
  • 10% planned to implement one
  • almost three-quarters have medical policies in place for reservists
    while a further 14% plan to implement one.

Beyond the Call of Duty

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) demands that employers reemploy reservists returning from active duty at their former jobs or an equivalent position.

It also requires employers to provide their workers on military leave with the same benefits that employees on other types of leave receive, and COBRA-like coverage thereafter for any remaining time that they are still performing their military obligations.

In addition, employers must count the time of military service as accrued seniority for job-related and benefits purposes and make pension accruals and individual account allocations during the period of military leave, even though employees are not earning the pay upon which these benefit allocations are usually based.

Returning reservists also get the chance to qualify for retroactive matching employer contributions by making up missed 401(k) deferrals.

In the face of this laundry list of obligations, it’s heartening to see that many employers, particularly those at large organizations “are going beyond what is required by USERRA and making up pay differentials and providing additional benefits,” Thomas Murphy, of PricewaterhouseCoopers told PLANSPONSOR.

Read the full story at Coping with Call Ups .