Beginning March 10, all employers are required to notify employees of
their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights
Act, also known as USERRA.
The notice must explain what rights and protections employees have under the Act,
including the right to re-employment after uniformed service, freedom from discrimination
and retaliation for serving in uniform, and certain health insurance protections.
The U.S. Department of Labor has prepared a poster that employer may use to fulfill the requirement. It can be downloaded
from HR.BLR.com. The notice should be posted where employers customarily place notices for employees.
USERRA sets out employment reinstatement and benefits rights for service members,
and it applies to all employers regardless of size, including federal, state
and local government employers.
Health benefits extended
The notice requirement is one of two significant changes to USERRA signed into
law recently by President Bush. The other concerns health benefits.
Previously, reservists on leave for more than 30 days were generally entitled
to elect COBRA-like health insurance continuation benefits for up to 18 months
if they are enrolled in a health plan on the day before their leave began and
they stood to lose that coverage because of the leave. This was true even if
the employer is not covered by COBRA.
The new law extends the period for such continuation benefits from 18 months
to 24 months and applies only to elections made on or after December 10, 2004.
The 24-month period runs from the date the employee's absence began or
for the period of service.