Critical employer obligations when employing military personnel

Does your company employ any military service members or spouses? Companies with employees who are members of the uniformed services, including reservists and National Guard members, should be aware of special rules and protections that are offered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA). These protections guarantee the rights of service members who take leaves of absence from their civilian jobs for periods of active military duty or training to return to their jobs upon completion of their service.

So what are the obligations for the employer?

USERRA applies to all employers and provides important benefits to service members, including protection from discrimination based on an employee’s military service, as well as protection from termination as a result of being called to active duty or participation in training. Rights to re-employment and the continuation of benefits and seniority are also granted to servicemembers upon their return from active military service. Keep in mind that some states may have additional rules, and your organization may have specific policies in place as well.

More details can be found here.

What about military spouses and family?

Even if the service members themselves may not be employed by a business, employers of military spouses also need to keep a few things in mind. Under the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA), military spouses can be allowed to maintain legal residency in the state in which the service member and their spouse consider home, even if that isn’t their current state of residence. This helps to make individual income tax filing a bit less complicated for military families who might find themselves assigned to temporary posts in different parts of the country. With the proper documentation, these rules may allow for the spouse’s income to be taxed only in the state of legal residency, and not necessarily where the income was earned. The proper designation should be completed by your employee on the appropriate state form(s) to make sure the taxation is handled properly.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also includes a few provisions (here) relating to spouses and families of service members. These rules allow the spouses and other family members to qualify for leaves connected to their family members’ military service, including flexible definitions for what may constitute serious injury or illness. The FMLA also addresses the amount of qualifying leave time that an employer may be required to provide.

As a company with proud ties to the uniformed services, Valor Payroll Solutions can help you navigate around the various HR and payroll regulations around military employees (and their spouses) to make sure your business remains in compliance.

 

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