A little ESGR education can go a long way
By Jim Strickland, ESGR Reserve Component Liaison
/ Published April 11, 2013
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Upon completion of my five-level seasonal training, I submitted my application for reemployment to my employer, asking to return to my pre-service position. I received a warm welcome and everyone in the shop expressed appreciation for my service to our country.
During my reintegration back into the company, Human Resources stated that I would have to wait until the next open season to start health insurance coverage.
Thanks to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve briefing that I received, I recalled that benefits were supposed to start immediately upon my return to my civilian employment.
Before addressing this with the Human Resource department, I wanted to ensure my recollection of the briefing was accurate with my NCO during UTA; it was confirmed that I was correct. During this discussion, my NCO recommended that I contact ESGR office and file a complaint to have the situation mediated.
The ESGR Ombudsman worked with my HR department to resolve this in a timely manner which resulted in my benefits being restarted immediately. Later, I inquired with the HR department on what happened and they admitted it was due to lack of training for the HR personnel.
Specifically, the HR person handling my file was not aware of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act for military affiliated employees. My return status had been related to a straight civilian returning from a leave of absence and company policy was that you had to wait until open season to restart benefits.
The majority of the HR departments want to do the right thing for their employees, but may not be trained on all of the different regulations from the Federal, State and Local Governments. Currently there are 180 federal regulations that the US Department of Labor administers and enforces, and companies with small HR departments struggle to keep up with the different ever changing regulations.
This is where ESGR is here to help our service members be more proactive to potential issues and work with civilian employers before the problems arise. Invite ESGR to come and talk with your employer to explain that ESGR is an advocate for them relating to all matters that pertain to USERRA. ESGR's mission is to facilitate and promote a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve service by developing and advocating mutually beneficial initiatives.
With your help, the transition from the military back to civilian life can be made a little easier through open dialogue with Service Member, Employer and ESGR to advocate for both.