Employment rights for servicemembers

For the last five years, Kirk Holder has served his country in the National Guard while working at Interstate Fred Meyer. When Kirk found out he was missing vacation days he immediately called his Union for help. Lucy, his rep, let him know about the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)—a federal statute that protects servicemembers’ and veteran’s rights in civilian jobs. 

Under the act, a servicemember is entitled to the same seniority, rights, and benefits while serving that they would have earned had they been continuously employed. This also applies to any hours he would have worked that are applied toward contractual raises.

As a result of working with his union rep, Kirk recovered 150 vacation hours. Anyone taking time off to serve needs to notify HR or their manager they’re going on military leave and keep an eye on their vacation and sick leave banks. Thank you for your service!


The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prevents military service from putting workers at a disadvantage in civilian jobs. The act requires employers to provide veterans and reservists with four basic entitlements:

  1. Reemployment in the same position if it exists, or a job of similar status, seniority, and pay.
  2. Seniority on the job as if the veteran or reservist had stayed employed
  3. Protection from dismissal, except for just cause
  4. Training or retraining for the job as needed, as well as other accommodations.

The act applies to peacetime or wartime, and for voluntary or involuntary military service. The service member must notify their employer in advance of their service or training. The service member must have a discharge that is other than dishonorable. On return from service or training, veterans and reservists must notify their employer of their intent to return to work within a certain timeframe based on the period of service. 

All employers are covered by the USERRA. For the rights of military spouses and family members, please ask your rep about the Oregon Military Family Leave Act.