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National Guard Employment Support


As a member of the National Guard, you have a foot in both the military and the civilian worlds. The information and resources in this guide can help you navigate your roles with the Guard and in the civilian workplace.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act provides that an employer must give you time off to perform military service and reemploy you following the service with status, seniority and rate of pay as though you never left.

The law ensures that you are:

  • Not disadvantaged in your civilian career because of your service
  • Promptly reemployed in your civilian job upon your return from duty
  • Not discriminated against in employment based on past, present or future military service

Protection applies to employees who are full time, part time or probationary. If you’ve been absent from your civilian job due to serving in the National Guard, you need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for protection:

  • Your employer had advance notice of your service.
  • You have five years or less of cumulative service in the uniformed services in your employment relationship with your employer.
  • You return to work or apply for reemployment in a timely manner after your service is ended.
  • You have not been separated from service with a disqualifying discharge or under other than honorable conditions.

USERRA applies to all public and private employers in the United States, regardless of size. USERRA also applies to foreign employers doing business in the United States and American companies operating in foreign countries, unless compliance would violate the law of the foreign country in which the workplace is located.

Independent contractors are not protected by USERRA.

USERRA protects service members from being denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion or any employment benefit because of their relationship with the military.

Learn more about USERRA, including your rights as an employee and how to file a complaint by visiting the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

See Frequently Asked Questions About the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act for more answers to your questions.

Civilian Employment Information

Members of the Guard and reserve are required to submit information about their civilian employer and job skills each year. This allows the Defense Department to:

  • Give consideration to civilian employment necessary to maintain national health, safety and interest when considering members for recall.
  • Ensure that members with critical civilian skills are not retained in numbers beyond those needed for those skills.
  • Inform employers of reservists of their rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

You can submit your CEI annually during readiness processing or records reviews. Failing to provide the required information could subject you to administrative or punitive action and adversely impact your local community.

Employment limitations and employer rights

Your employer should always treat you fairly, but there are certain limitations you should be aware of, especially with regard to your absence from the workplace.

Federal law guarantees you the right to take time off from work to attend to your military responsibilities. The more that you, your boss and your personnel office know about the federal laws and legal precedents that spell out laws protecting reserve reemployment rights, the less chance there is for misunderstanding.

If you miss work while you perform military service, your employer is not obligated to reschedule you to make up the time lost. However, if employees who miss work for nonmilitary reasons are afforded opportunities to make up the time lost, you must be treated in the same manner. You cannot be required to find a replacement worker for the shifts you will miss as a condition of being given the time off by your employer to perform military service.

Federal law allows you the option to use earned vacation while performing military service, but you cannot be required to do so. The only case where you could be required to use your vacation would be if your company has a planned shutdown period when everyone must take vacation, and your military service coincides with that period of time.

Your employer is not required to provide for vacation accrual while you are absent from work performing military service unless accrual is permitted for employees on nonmilitary leave of absence of similar length.

Although some private and government employers provide full or partial civilian pay to employees absent on military duty — usually for a limited period of time — the law requires only an unpaid leave of absence.

Federal employees are entitled to time off at full pay for certain types of active or inactive duty in the National Guard or as a reserve of the armed forces. More information is available from the Office of Personnel Management.

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Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a Defense Department-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle.

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Military OneSource non-medical counseling

Free and confidential non-medical counseling is available from Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or live chat to speak with a consultant.

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