Maine employees who are also members of the state or National Guard or reserves might have to leave their regular civilian jobs for military service. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your private sector job for months. But while you are gone, Maine and federal laws protect your job rights.
Federal Law: USERRA
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that 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.)
Maine 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 Maine and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Maine law prohibits discrimination against employees based on their membership or service in the United States reserves or the National Guard.
Employees in the National Guard or reserves are entitled to military leave in response to state or federal military orders. Upon completion of service, employees must be reinstated, at the same pay, seniority, benefits, and status, and must receive all other employment advantages as if they had been continuously employed.
For the first 30 days of an employee’s military leave, the employer must continue the employee’s health, dental, and life insurance at no additional cost to the employee. After 30 days, the employee may continue these benefits at his or her own expense (paying the employer’s group rates).
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 Maine 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.