Military Leave Policy - Section III, F: Benefits Granted under USERRA
Including Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the California Military & Veterans Code (CMVA)
Revised: April 2014
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III, F: Benefits Granted under USERRA(Applies to all Military Leave)
- Health & Welfare Coverage During Leave Without Pay (M-LWOP)
If an employee’s Military Leave exceeds 30 days, the employee will have the option of using available vacation, compensatory time or military leave without pay (M-LWOP).
When paid leave is exhausted, or if the employee elects not to use available vacation or compensatory time to maintain pay status, the employee will be eligible for M-LWOP. For absences where the employee is on a M-LWOP (other than provided for under the California Military and Veterans Act above), health coverage stops unless the employee elects to continue health insurance, vision, dental and long term disability during an unpaid leave. The employee must make arrangements with the Auditor-Controller’s Office to pay both the County and employee’s share of the medical benefit premiums. An employee must submit payment within specified time frames to continue medical benefits. If the employee chooses to lapse health insurance coverage, when the employee returns to work his/her health insurance will be reinstated with no waiting period. If the County cannot immediately re-employ upon application, health insurance will be reinstated upon stated date of availability to return to County service.
- Credit for Time Spent on Military Leave
Time spent on military leave counts as service credit for any calculation, determination or other decision that is dependent upon length of employment. This includes cost of living salary adjustment, vacation accrual rate and seniority ranking which would have occurred during the employee’s military absence.
- Pension Benefits
Upon an employee’s return from service in the uniformed services as defined by USERRA (20 CFR §1002.6; see also Government Code §31649), the employee may be able to purchase retirement service credit that would have been earned had the employee not been absent. The County will provide notice to the employee within 30 days after the date of reemployment of the right to purchase service credit (Government Code §31649.1).
If the employee is eligible to purchase service credit, catch up contributions will be automatically started as a pre-tax deduction from the employee’s paycheck (per Government Code §31650). An employee may elect to stop the automatic catch up contributions anytime up to 90 days after return to pay status (per Government Code §31649), by contacting the Sonoma County Auditor Payroll Office.
The amount of the employee’s catch up contributions is based on the amount that would have been contributed had they been working at the County. No interest is assessed. The returning employee is generally given up to three (3) times the length of the service in the uniformed services (up to a maximum of five (5) years) to make the retirement catch up contribution payments.
For additional information, contact the Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association at (707) 565-8100.
- Retiree Medical
Military Leave is not considered a break in employment for retiree medical eligibility calculation; however, service time credit purchased through SCERA (see Pension Benefits above) does not apply towards eligibility for retiree medical benefits. Military Service time prior to County employment or after separation does not count towards Retiree Medical Benefits. Employees should contact the Human Resources Benefits Unit regarding eligibility for Retiree Medical benefits.
- Merit Pay
Employees on military leave may receive the merit salary increases the employee would have been entitled to receive, if any, had the employee not left, and will not be delayed due to employee’s military service. Merit pay is subject to MOU provisions.
- Probationary Period and Performance Management
Employees who are re-employed following uniformed service or full recovery from compensable injury shall receive credit for the entire period of the absence, including the completion of probation. (5 CFR §353.107)
An employee may not be denied restoration rights because of poor performance or conduct that occurred prior to the employee’s departure for compensable injury or uniformed service (5 CFR §353.108).