If you are a member of the state or federal National Guard or Reserves, you likely have two careers: a regular civilian 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
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (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 does much more: 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.)
Colorado Military Leave Laws
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 Colorado and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Colorado provides two additional protections for service members. First, it extends the reinstatement rights provided by USERRA to employees who are called to active state service in the Colorado National Guard. These employees have the right to unlimited unpaid time off and reinstatement to their former position, with the pay, seniority, and benefits the employee would have had if continuously employed.
Second, Colorado provides leave to members of the National Guard or the U.S. armed forces reserves for training. Employees can take up to 15 days of unpaid leave for military training per year, with reinstatement to their former position. (Employees have to provide evidence of satisfactory completion of their training.)
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 Colorado 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.