Employee Military Deployments: Dealing with Staff Disruptions

Military service is something we generally honor in this country. Those willing to put their own lives at risk in defense of the country deserve a level of respect commensurate with the sacrifice they have made for the rest of us. Nonetheless, employee military deployments tend to cause problems for employers. Those problems range from staffing shortages to financial challenges.

Note that there is no one way to handle an employee military deployment. A lot of things have to be considered. For example, is the affected employer a public or private entity? Next, is the deployment a long-term assignment or short-term reserve duty? Finally, what does the law say in regard to an employer’s particular needs?

Paying Deployed Employees

One of the first questions to come up is whether or not employers are required to continue paying workers called up for service. That depends on the employer’s status. Public employers are required by law to at least make up the difference between a deployed worker’s normal salary and what he or she will be paid for active military duty. In some cases, public employers are required to continue paying a worker’s full salary.

There are no such laws in place governing private employers. However, there is the public relations issue to think about. It might be better to continue paying employees according to the same rules that apply to public employers as a way of showing respect and honoring military service.

U.S. Small Business Association Loans

From time to time, military deployments cause financial hardships for small businesses. These hardships could be directly related to lost productivity or continuing to pay workers during their deployments. There may be cases in which an employer has to bring on new staff to cover shortages.

Regardless of the root causes of financial hardship, affected employers may have access to financial assistance through a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program known as the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL).

Not every business affected by military call ups qualifies for financial assistance. But to those that do, a small business loan could be the necessary lifeline to keep things afloat until deployed workers return home.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

If there are any questions pertaining to job protection or other employee rights issues, employers should consult the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994. This legislation answers a lot of questions relating to time limits and job protection.

For example, a typical long-term deployment could last anywhere from several months to a few years. The USERRA limits the cumulative amount of time deployed workers can count on reemployment to five years. There are exceptions to this five-year limit, including involuntary call ups during times of national emergency.

The point here is to protect the jobs of military members who are called up for reserve or active duty for a reasonable amount of time. The law does allow for some flexibility. Yet it always seeks to strike the right balance between employer needs and employee job protection.

Outsourcing Payroll

Dealing with military deployments is one of several things that leads employers to eventually outsource their payroll to third-party providers BenefitMall. Payroll providers make it their business to understand the nuances of these sorts of things.

For employers, it is just easier to outsource payroll than try to keep up with the myriad rules and regulations that govern payroll, labor laws, etc. Outsourcing payroll increases compliance and saves employers from having to deal with major headaches on their own.

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