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USERRA: Connecticut

USERRA requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Jessica Sussman

Summary

  • Connecticut employers must provide a leave of absence to any employee who is required to perform military duty during regular working hours in Connecticut's armed forces, any reserve component of the US armed forces or the National Guard of any state. See Connecticut Military Leave.
  • Employers with 75 or more employees must provide employees with a leave of absence to care for a covered family who is a member of the armed forces and was injured in the line of duty. See Family Military Leave.
  • Employers should maintain documentation of any impending military leaves and train managers on documentation requirements. See Documentation.

Connecticut Military Leave

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is a federal law that provides leave rights for public and private employees with military obligations. USERRA requires employers to reinstate employees returning from military leave and to train or otherwise qualify returning employees.

Any member of the Connecticut National Guard whom the Governor orders into active state service has all of the protections afforded to servicemembers on federal active service by USERRA. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 27-34a.

A Connecticut employer must provide an unpaid leave of absence to any employee who is ordered to perform military duty (including attendance at meetings or drills) during regular working hours in Connecticut's armed forces (e.g., organized militia, National Guard, naval militia and naval militia's Marine Corps. branch), any reserve component of the US armed forces or the National Guard of any state. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 27-33a.

A Connecticut employer should consider including a military leave policy in their handbook to educate employees about the availability of leave for military duty and to demonstrate their compliance with Connecticut's military leave law.

Benefits

Employees do not lose vacation or holiday privileges as a result of military leave. Absence as a result of military service should not affect the employee's right to continue in employment, to a promotion or to reappointment or reemployment. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 27-33a.

Payments that an employer is not legally required to make to employees on leave of absence for military training is not taxable wages. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-222(b)(2)(C).

An employee will be eligible for unemployment benefits if the employee separates from work to accompany a spouse who is on active duty with the US armed forces and is required to relocate. An employer can require that the employee produce documentation verifying the spouse's mandatory military transfer. An employer's account will not be charged with respect to any voluntary separation that falls within this exception. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-236(a)(2)(A).

Family Military Leave

Under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CFMLA), employers with 75 or more employees must provide employees with military caregiver leave (to care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin who is a member of the armed forces and is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy; is otherwise in an outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty) and military exigency leave (any qualifying exigency due to the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter or parent is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the armed forces).

For more information on family military leave rights under the CFMLA please see FMLA: Connecticut.

Documentation

Employers should maintain documentation of any impending military leaves. If an employee gives oral notice of an impending military leave, an employer should document such notice and place it in the employee's file. HR personnel should inform all managers/supervisors that they must forward any written notice, and communicate any oral notice, of an employee's pending military leave to the HR department. Employers should remember, however, that under the federal USERRA law, written or oral notice of military leave is sufficient to meet the employee's obligation to inform the employer of the need for military leave.

Employers should also maintain documentation for all employment actions taken against an employee on military-related leave to the same extent as it maintains documentation of those actions for other employees. Because USERRA and military leave lawsuits can arise as a result of alleged discrimination based on military service or enlistment in the military, employers should have documentation to demonstrate that any action it has taken is not related to or the result of an employee's service in the military.

Future Developments

Civil Air Patrol Leave

Effective October 1, 2019, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against, disciplining or terminating an employee because the employee:

  • Is a member of the Civil Air Patrol (the civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force); or
  • Is absent from work for the purpose of:
    • Responding as a member of the Civil Air Patrol to an emergency declared by the Governor of Connecticut or US President;
    • Responding as a member of the Civil Air Patrol to a request for assistance in an emergency, natural disaster or life-threatening event at the request of the US Air Force or Coast Guard, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security within the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the state police or a local Connecticut police department; or
    • Participating as a member of the Civil Air Patrol in required emergency services training programs and exercises.

An employee is an individual who receives wages or remuneration for providing services to an employer.

An employer is a person who provides wages or remuneration to one or more individuals who perform services for the employer under an express or implied contract of hire.

The law does not prohibit an employer from:

  • Treating the time the employee is absent because of Civil Air Patrol service as unpaid time off; or
  • Complying with a collective bargaining agreement or employee benefit plan entered into before October 1, 2019.

Employee Notice Requirements

Civil Air Patrol members who are trained and qualified to provide emergency services must notify their employer that they may be called to participate in training or to serve in an emergency, natural disaster or life-threatening event. Notice must be provided by the later of:

  • October 31, 2019;
  • The employee's date of employment with the employer; or
  • The date on which the employee joins the Civil Air Patrol.

For covered absences, an employee must give the employer:

  • As much notice as possible of the dates the employee will be absent; and
  • Written verification from the Civil Air Patrol of the purpose of the employee's absence.

Public Act 19-95.

Additional Resources

USERRA: Federal