Contacts: Laura Smith, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162
Dick Jones, Department of Workforce Development, 608-267-4780
MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle is urging state employers to capitalize on the unique skills and talents of returning veterans and help them transition quickly to civilian employment now that National Guard and Reserve units have begun returning from active duty in Iraq.
“With their extensive training and track record of service in challenging situations, Wisconsin’s service members have many valuable skills and abilities,” Governor Doyle said. “I’m confident that with their talent and proven record of service, Wisconsin’s newest veterans will quickly transition to civilian employment.”
Within the next three weeks, approximately 3,200 members of the National Guard’s 32nd Brigade will return from active duty in Iraq. Upon completion of their mission, they will return to their pre-service employers to resume their civilian employment responsibilities. Federal law, under the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), provides for the rights and responsibilities of employees and their employers when the employee is called to active military service.
“Wisconsin greatly appreciates the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our Reserve and National Guard military members called to active duty,” Governor Doyle said. “Wisconsin’s service members have served in difficult positions worldwide, often at great personal sacrifice, and they should not have to worry about job-related concerns upon their return.”
The U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), and the Office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) are working together to reinforce public awareness of the rights and responsibilities provided to veterans under USERRA.
USERRA provides service members with added protections, and provides employers with a common basis for a smooth transition to reintegrate returning veterans to regular employment. Some provisions of USERRA include:
* Departing service members must be treated as if they are on a leave of absence.
* A re-employed employee is protected from discrimination, retaliation, or reprisals based on their military obligations.
* Activated military service member employees must give advance notice of their activation to their employers in most cases, unless military duties prevent them from doing so. Notice may be either orally or in writing. Cumulative absences may not exceed five years.
USERRA also covers when an employee must report back to work, documentation the employee is required to provide to the employer, seniority rights, pension and retirement plans, vacation pay, and health benefits.
A downloadable USERRA Resource Guide, which provides detailed information about the law, is available online at no charge at: http://www.dol.gov/vets/whatsnew/userraguide0903.rtf. Additional information involving USERRA can also be found on the U.S. Department of Labor website at http://www.dol.gov/vets.
Employers or returning veterans requiring assistance involving USERRA can contact Dan Schmitz, State Director of the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), at (608) 266-3110. VETS is also responsible for mediating complaints between employers and employees. Alternately, employers and employees can contact the office of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) toll-free at (800) 336-4590 to request the telephone number of an Ombudsman nearest to them.