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5-year clock puts reemployment rights in jeopardy

  • Published
  • By Jim Strickland
  • ESGR Reserve Component Liaison
Eleven years ago many of us took off our suits, welder's masks, gloves, and donned our uniforms and went off to defend our nation following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. We didn't know what the future would hold. Our employers told us to go, do our duty.

We gladly accepted the challenge.

Over the course of those years, many Airmen have been on and off of active duty supporting the nation, spending extended periods in uniform while still working for the same employer. However brief or long those stints in uniform are, each moment is added to a virtual time clock. And when that total reaches five cumulative years, Reservists may be in jeopardy of losing their right to reemployment.

It's called the Five-Year-Clock. Each employer you work for has one, even if you worked for multiple employers at the same time.

According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, you can be on active duty for up to five years of cumulative service. What does this mean to you?

For example: if you have been continuously employed by the same employer for 10 years and you have been on and off and active duty for a cumulative five year period, you are potentially in trouble of getting your civilian job back.

Some of this time on active duty may be exempt from the cumulative total. Certain types of deployments, attendance at professional development schools and some assignments approved by the Secretary of the Air Force may not count toward the five years.

Remember it is a personal responsibility to keep track of the time you are away from your civilian employment. Some employers keep a thorough record of this time; others don't.

It's always important for you to communicate with your employer, not just so they know where you are and what you are doing. It is important that you help them keep up with time that is counted against you versus time that is exempt from the five year rule.

Provide your employer with the documentation showing the exempted time. These documents can be your orders, DD Form 214, or a letter from the Secretary of the Air Force. This information will make time accounting easier for you and your employers.

Contact your servicing Personnel Office or the Employer of Support of the Guard and Reserve at 800-336-4590 for more information about your employment rights and ESGR support.