DATE:  Sept. 28,  2001     NO: 01-80

CONTACT: Dan Travis PHONE: (907) 465-5881

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release


LABOR COMMISSIONER REMINDS VETERANS, RESERVISTS,
NATIONAL GUARD OF EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

Labor Department Files "Statement of Support" of Guard Members

In light of new security measures being undertaken at state airports and national guard involvement, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Ed Flanagan wants to remind military service members of their job rights.

The U.S. Department of Labor, through the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) provides assistance to all persons having claims under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA continues the protection of civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of Reserve components.

The State of Alaska is the largest single employer of Guard men and women," Flanagan said. "There are several Guard members in my department and I want to thank them for their service and give them my assurance that they have our support."

USERRA clearly establishes that reemployment protection does not depend on the timing, frequency, duration, or nature of an individual's service. The period an individual has to apply for reemployment or report back to work after military service is now based on time spent on military duty; not on the category of service performed, Flanagan noted.

Flanagan also pointed out that USERRA requires that service members provide advance written or verbal notice to their employers for all military duty unless giving notice is impossible, unreasonable, or precluded by military necessity. Additionally, service members are able (but not required) to use accrued vacation or annual leave while performing military duty.

The U.S. Department of Labor, through the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) provides assistance to all persons having claims under USERRA, including Federal and Postal Service employees.

An interactive computer program available online through the U.S. Department of Labor answers questions about the important aspects of the law can be reached here

To recognize Guard members, Flanagan submitted a "Statement of Support" with the National Committee of Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), pledging his support as an employer. He also encouraged other department heads to follow suit.

ESGR promotes cooperation between Reserve and Guard component members and their civilian employers, and public understanding of the Guard's role. It also assists in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment.

"Traditional Guard members train annually and weekends so they are ready," said Major General Phil Oates, Commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard in expressing his appreciation to Flanagan. "If they are deployed, they should not have to worry about job security upon return."

Major General Oates thanked Commissioner Flanagan "for reminding employers - and employees - of their rights and responsibilities. The state wants to be a good employer."

"It's always better to prevent an employer-employee conflict," said Steve Lundgren, ESGR Interior Region Chair. "I appreciate the Department of Labor and Workforce Development taking a proactive stance."

Information can be found on-line at http://www.esgr.org/ State directors and other trained staff from the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the U.S. Department of Labor are available to assist any employer, veteran, reservist or National Guard members.

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