The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that protects workers who leave their civilian jobs for voluntary or involuntary military service.
The law requires employers to rehire veterans in their civilian jobs – with accrued seniority – if they meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Must have left the job for the purpose of performing service in the uniformed services. That includes the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service. The Army National Guard and Air National Guard qualify when performing active duty for training, inactive duty training, or full-time National Guard duty.
- Must have given prior oral or written notice to the civilian employer. Prior notice is not required if it is precluded by military necessity or otherwise impossible or unreasonable. The law does not specify any minimum period of notice. Circumstances arise, especially in a mobilization scenario, when the individual has very little advance notice from military authorities.
- Cumulative period or periods of service in the uniformed services, relating to that particular civilian employer, must not have exceeded the five-year limit. All involuntary service and some voluntary service are exempted from the five-year limit.
- Must have been released from the period of service, without having been "dropped from the rolls" or having received a punitive or other-than-honorable discharge.
- Must have reported back to work in a timely manner, or have submitted a timely application for reemployment.
If the period of service is less than 31 days, the employee is required to report for work "not later than the beginning of the first regularly scheduled work period on the first full calendar day following the completion of the period of service and the expiration of eight hours after a period allowing for the safe transportation of the person from the place of that service to the person’s residence.
If reporting at that time is impossible or unreasonable through no fault of such person (e.g., automobile accident on return trip), the employee is required to report for work as soon as possible thereafter.
If the period of service was 31-180 days, the employee is required to submit an application for reemployment within 14 days after the end of the period of service. If the period of service was 181 days or more, the individual must submit the application for reemployment within 90 days. These deadlines can be extended by up to two years if the individual is hospitalized or convalescing for a service-connected injury or illness.
View, download or print this brief USERRA Guidebook.
Watch this USERRA video.