Ask HR: New Job’s Travel Requirements Weren’t Disclosed

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP March 24, 2022
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Ask HR: New Job’s Travel Requirements Weren’t Disclosed

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here. 

 

I was offered a new job for which travel was not listed in the job description or discussed in the interview. In my profession, travel is not unheard of, so I expected occasional travel. I voiced my desire to be local to one of the interviewers and indicated that I had no interest in frequent travel. I left my job of 15 years for this position, and now I'm being pressured to travel frequently. I do have medical issues, but I would prefer not to discuss them if possible. Suggestions? —Anson

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: While any number of scenarios could have led to this unfortunate disconnect, the bottom line is that somewhere within the exchanges between the interviewer, manager and yourself, the expectations were lost. Miscommunication, whether accidental or intentional, erodes trust and damages the employer/employee relationship. To turn things around and improve communication, you should start a conversation with your manager and/or human resources department as soon as possible.

You are not required to inform your employer about your medical condition. However, should your condition rise to the level of a medical disability, you may need to disclose it. Your employer will then need to assess whether your condition meets the criteria for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your medical condition is determined to be a qualifying disability, your employer is obligated to provide you with a reasonable accommodation, as long as it does not cause the employer undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations may include meeting with clients and customers virtually, traveling less frequently, or adjusting modes of travel.  

If you aren't comfortable with this approach or your reluctance to travel is more of a personal preference, it is reasonable to discuss this with your manager and HR. Do not assume they understand your perspective. Let them know that you specifically requested only occasional travel and accepted the position based on the understanding that the travel would be limited. Be prepared to offer a solution. Outline the parameters for the frequency and duration of travel you are willing to accommodate. Understanding your needs can help your employer form a viable work plan.

If there are any reservations about job requirements or conditions, it is always best practice to ask and verify. Also, it can be helpful to clarify ongoing expectations for communicating changes in travel requirements going forward. I hope you reach a satisfactory outcome.

 

I am considering joining the National Guard and am concerned some of my work benefits will be suspended. Are employers required to retain benefits, like the accumulation of time for vesting qualifications, for employees on military leave? —Clarissa

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: It's great to hear that you are considering serving your country by joining the National Guard. Thankfully, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) offers significant job and benefits protection when an individual voluntarily or involuntarily leaves a job to perform military service in any military branch, the National Guard or the Reserves.

Retention of health benefits will depend on the length of your military leave. If an absence is less than 31 days, your employer is obligated to continue your health insurance and to pay its portion of the premium. For absences of 30 days or more, your health benefits will end and you will have the option to continue coverage for up to 24 months or for the period of military service, whichever is shorter. You may be required to contribute the full cost of health benefits plus a 2 percent administration fee. When you return to your employer, your regular health benefits are immediately reinstated.

Protections for retirement benefits are available as well. You are entitled to all accrued pension benefits. However, your employer is not required to continue to make contributions to your 401(k) while you are on military leave. Keep in mind, contributions to 401(k)s can be made up when you return from service, and your employer is obligated to match any catch-up contributions.

Paid time off, as well as vacation or sick leave, is also protected under USERRA. The ability to continue to accrue leave during military leave is subject to your employer's policy, so your paid-time-off accruals may be suspended during your leave. However, if the policy stipulates that accruals will continue for any employee on a leave of absence, an employee on military leave is entitled to continued accruals.

Another key benefit is reinstatement. Employers are required to reinstate employees into the same position with all seniority, status, pay and benefits as if they had been actively working during their military service. The vesting of employment rights occurs on re-enrollment. In other words, if you do not want to be re-employed upon your return from military leave, your employer is not responsible for those obligations.

I hope this will assist you in making the best decision. 

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