Scenario: Linda Longlegs is employed as a dance instructor by Footloose Studios, a small dance company in Southwest Florida. Longlegs, who is in the Army reserve, tells her supervisor she needs six months of leave because she has been called to active duty in Afghanistan.
Which of the following statements is correct?
A. When Longlegs returns, Footloose does not have to re-employ her because Footloose only has 9 employees.
B. When Longlegs returns, Footloose does not have to re-employ her because Longlegs only worked for Footloose for two months prior to her request for leave.
C. Longlegs can use her accrued PTO while she is on leave.
D. While Longlegs is on leave, Footloose must pay her regular wages and continue to pay her health insurance coverage.
The correct answer is C. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) applies to all employers, regardless of size. Likewise, there is no minimum time an employee must work before he/she qualifies for USERRA protection. D is half correct — Footloose is required to continue paying Longlegs’ health insurance coverage while she is on leave, but it is not required to pay her regular wages.
HR Takeaway: USERRA can be difficult for HR professionals to navigate because it is not utilized very often. Because it applies to employers of all sizes, and practically all employees, HR professionals should be very careful when dealing with requests for military leave, and with re-employment after leave. Additionally, those employers with 50 or more employees also must take care to comply with the military leave requirements of the FMLA.
Photo Courtesy of bluegrasshomesandfarms on Flickr