If you work in Pennsylvania and serve in the state or National Guard or reserves, you might have to leave your private sector job for military service. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your civilian job for months. But while you are gone, a federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects your job. Pennsylvania law extends similar protections to members of the state’s military.
Federal Law: USERRA
USERRA, a federal law, prohibits discrimination against employees who are in the U.S. Armed Forces, have served in the military, or take leave to serve in the military.
USERRA provides valuable additional protections, too. It 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.)
Pennsylvania Laws on 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 Pennsylvania and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the U.S. military, you are protected by USERRA.
Under Pennsylvania law, employees who enlist or are drafted during a time of war or emergency called by the President or Governor, along with reservists or members of the Pennsylvania National Guard who are called to active duty, are entitled to take unpaid military leave. Employees called to active duty are entitled to continuation of their health insurance coverage, at no extra cost, for the first 30 days.
When an employee’s military service is over, the employee is entitled to reinstatement to the same or a similar position, with the same status, seniority, and pay. Employees who enlist or are drafted must return to work within 90 days after their military service ends; reservists must return to work within 90 days after their military service ends; and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard must return to work within 30 days after their state duty ends.
Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their membership or service in the military.
If you have faced discrimination because of your military service, or you have been denied the reinstatement and other rights available to you under USERRA or Pennsylvania 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.