Massachusetts 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, Massachusetts 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.)
Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Massachusetts law protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their membership in, application to perform, or obligation to perform military service, including service in the National Guard.
In addition, Massachusetts employees who are members of an organized unit of the ready reserves of the armed forces may take up to 17 days of leave per year for training. This military training leave may not affect the employee’s vacation, sick leave, bonus, or promotion rights. The employee must give the employer notice of the departure and anticipated return date, and must provide evidence of the satisfactory completion of training.
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 Massachusetts 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.