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The New Regulations Do Not Have Any New Legal Requirements, Just Clarification of Existing Requirements
(Alexandria, Va., December 16, 2005)—Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new regulations on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The new regulations do not impose any new legal requirements, but rather clarify existing regulations and reiterate the overarching idea that the regulations are to be read liberally in favor of service members. The new regulations did include comments submitted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM.)
"During these times of war and domestic disasters, when we are reminded how essential the work of our service men and women are to our overall freedoms and way of life, it is important for DOL to issue the USERRA regulation to provide clear guidance to employers and employees on their respective responsibilities and obligations under the Act," said Michael P. Aitken, director of governmental affairs at SHRM. "The entire business community must support and reward service members by ensuring fair reemployment opportunities upon their return."
The clarifications were made to USERRA's antidiscrimination provisions, eligibility rules for re-employment, the rights and benefits of absent service members, and returning members' re-employment rights and benefits. One area of note, known as the "escalator position," is the right for returning service members to retain the level of seniority they had before being called to service and any amount of advancement that they would have received with a high degree of certainty had they remained continuously employed with the organization during their time away for military service.
USERRA regulations also state with clarity that coverage is granted for voluntary and involuntary military duty and no minimum advanced notice is required, nor does a service member require approval from an employer to receive reemployment rights.
The regulations were primarily developed by the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) division of the DOL in consultation with the U.S. Department of Defense. SHRM submitted comments to the DOL that were considered in the final regulations released today.
SHRM is disappointed that the regulations will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register instead of giving employers 90 days to adapt to the regulations, as SHRM suggested in their submitted comments.
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