If you are a member of the National Guard or Reserves, or the Alaska National Guard, Naval Militia, or State Defense Force, you probably have two careers: a regular job in the private sector and temporary stints in the military. If you are called to active duty, your military service could stretch out for months. But while you are gone, federal and state laws protect your job rights.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
USERRA is a federal law that protects employees who need time off from their regular jobs for military service. USERRA is one of the most protective employee rights laws on the books. It prohibits discrimination against employees who are in the military, have served in the military, or take leave to serve in the military. But it goes much farther than that: It also requires employers to reinstate employees who take up to five years off for military service, with all of the promotions, raises, and other benefits they would have received had they worked through their time off. And, it prohibits employers from firing employees without cause for up to one year after they return from service. (For more information on USERRA, see Taking Military Leave.)
Alaska Military Leave
USERRA protects employees who serve in the United States military, including those who serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserves, Army or Air National Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service. If you work in Alaska and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Alaska law also protects employees who are called to duty in the state organized militia, which consists of the Alaska National Guard, the Alaska Naval Militia, and the Alaska State Defense Force. Under Alaska Statute section 26.05.075, organized militia members who are called to active duty by order of the Governor have reinstatement rights. (Among the reasons the Governor might call up militia members, the statute lists wildfires, insurrection, invasion, and mob violence.)
Members of the Alaska organized militia are untitled to unlimited unpaid leave from their jobs and reinstatement when their leave is over, with the pay, seniority, and benefits they would have enjoyed absent taking military leave. Employees must return to work on the workday following the last day necessary for travel.
Employees who suffer a disability must request reemployment within 30 days after they are released. If an employee’s disability prevents the employee from doing the job, the employee must be offered a position with similar pay and benefits.
If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your military service, or you have been denied the rights available to you under USERRA or Alaska state law, check out servicemembers.gov, the Department of Justice's website devoted to enforcing USERRA and other laws that protect the rights of those who serve in the military. You'll also find helpful information at the website of Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve.