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USERRA: What Employers Need To Know

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U.S. military veterans, National Guard, and Reserve members have valuable transferable skills that can thrive in any company or organization. With intentional training and a solid support structure, studies show that military veterans, National Guard, and Reserve members are more likely to be promoted and become leaders within a company. As the number of National Guard and Reserve military members continues to increase each year, it’s more important than ever to make sure your organization understands its legal obligations to employees who are deployed to serve in the uniformed services. That’s where USERRA comes in.


Enacted in 1994, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides job and benefits protection for members of the uniformed services. USERRA generally allows employees to take up to five years of leave for military service and covers United States citizens and permanent residents working in foreign countries for companies that are incorporated or organized in the U.S., or controlled by an entity organized in the U.S. USERRA applies to all employers of all sizes, including federal and state governments.

USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job candidates who are reservists or apply to become members of a uniformed service. The Act also prohibits retaliation against members of the uniformed services because they have taken temporary leave to perform their military service.

Who Is Covered Under USERRA?

To qualify for coverage under USERRA, an employee must take leave from work because of “service in the uniformed services,” including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and any other category as designated by the President of the United States in time of war or national emergency. This includes voluntary or involuntary active duty, boot camp, inactive duty training, full-time National Guard duty, and fitness examinations related to these duties.

Compensation During Military Leave

While USERRA doesn’t require employers to compensate absent employees called to military service, some companies do offer some compensation as an incentive to hire this capable, adaptable, highly skilled demographic. For instance, some employers offer supplemental compensation to reservists if there’s a difference between their regular pay and military pay. However, employers are required to offer other benefits such as health, dental, and disability insurance to employees on military service if those benefits are also offered to employees on other types of unpaid leave.

Right To Reinstatement

After an employee’s military service has been completed, they have the right to prompt reinstatement back into their civilian job under USERRA. It’s the employee’s responsibility to make an application for reinstatement. Depending on how long the employee was in military service, the amount of time they have to notify their employer of their intent to return to work varies between 1 and 90 days and may be extended up to two years if the employee is hospitalized for an illness or injury related to their service.

State Laws and Help For Small Businesses with USERRA

All states have additional requirements for employers regarding military leave. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Veterans ‘ Employment and Training Services Department is here to help employers and employees navigate the benefits and protections provided by USERRA. Contact Holly Van Liere, MSW, in Denver at  (303) 318-8821 for more information, or click here to download a USERRA Fact Sheet.

Make Your Workplace Attractive To Military Service Members

Located centrally between six military bases in Colorado, Miller’s Landing is a mixed-use development that offers an attractive opportunity for work-life balance for employees and customers who also serve in the military. With plenty of areas to get outdoors, relax and meet with others professionally and for fun, take your office and company culture to the next level in the fifth wealthiest county in the United States.

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