Ways to Assist Employees and Associates on Military Leave

March 1, 2007

You’re subject to certain employment laws when employees your administrative assistants, marketing people, tech support are called up. Those employment laws don’t apply to your independent contractors, but you still face hardship because you can’t stand in the way of the person’s military obligation.

For employees:

  • Follow USERRA. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 applies even if you have only one employee. So if any of your employees are members of the armed services, including the National Guard and Reserves, you must comply. That means, for example, that if those employees are scheduled for pay raises over a predetermined time, you must give them the raises even if they’re serving their duty at that time.
  • Work it out. Employee leave is guaranteed by law, and employees are required to inform you verbally or in writing that they’ve been called to duty. You can request that they use some of their vacation time, personal days, or sick leave during their service, but you can’t require them to do so.

For independent contractors:

  • Tap resources. Look to your broker colleagues and your local association for ideas on coping with the associate’s extended absence. You might offer a company-paid personal assistant to handle administrative tasks for the associate, for example, or get commitments from other associates in the office to manage unfinished deals. Work out a fee structure so that if the associate gets new business while away, other associates can handle the deals, but the absent associate retains a referral or other fee.

For all your people:

  • Provide your support. Remember, your team members are performing a priceless service to the country. How you respond sets an example. Encourage companywide support and cooperation.

Source:SCORE (www.score.org); U.S. Department of Labor