Hawaii employees who are members of the state or National Guard or reserves most likely have two jobs: a position in the private sector and a position in the military. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your civilian job for months. But while you are gone, federal and Hawaii laws protect your job rights.
Federal Protections: USERRA
Employees who need time off work for military service are protected by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), a federal law. USERRA 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 as well. 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.)
Hawaii Laws Protecting Employees 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 Hawaii and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Hawaii law provides that national guard members are entitled to unlimited unpaid leave while engaged in performing ordered National Guard service and while going to and returning from service. These employees must be reinstated to their former position or one with the same seniority, status, and pay. An employee who is unable to do his or her job because of a service-related disability must be reinstated to the position that is most like his or her former position, provided the employee is qualified.
Like USERRA, Hawaii law provides that reinstated employees may not be terminated without cause for up to one year after they return. It also prohibits discrimination against employees because of their obligations as members of the National Guard.
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 Hawaii 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.