Employers (law firms) owe a new duty to reservists

On December 24, 2004, a new law was signed, the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act. The new Act modifies the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Act.

Employers now must:

*Notify employees of their rights each year under this law
*Extend employer-sponsored health benefits from 18 to 24 months
*Permit employees, similar to COBRA coverage, to continue health coverage during their military service if their health plan coverage terminates because of absence resulting from military service
*Accrue vacation and sick days during military service if such benefits are normally based on length of employment even though absent from the job.

The federal law does not require that the employer continue the employee’s pay during military duty, but some States do.

Further, the returning military person is also entitled to receive any promotions and raises to which he would have been entitled had he not served in the military. If not qualified, the employer must make all reasonable efforts to provide sufficient training for the returning military person.

The real issues and the real impact of these changes will be felt for a long time; they really haven’t yet even begun.


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