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Reservists and Guard troops returning to work once they've completed their active duty are protected by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act of 1994 (USERRA). Beyond this legislation, there are things you can do to make your reentry into the civilian workforce go more smoothly.

Position Yourself
  • Learn about your rights and responsibilities regarding reemployment after active duty via the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service's (VETS) USERRA Advisor.
  • Keep three years of back pay stubs, performance evaluations and job descriptions to establish a baseline for how you would have progressed at work while you were away on active duty. Check that your personnel file is complete and up-to-date.
  • Individually contact clients and other key associates before you ship out to let them know who will fill your shoes and when you will depart. Make everyone aware of the uncertainty of your return date.
  • Before you leave, prepare and win approval for a succession plan that specifies how coworkers will fill in for you. "Be sure your people are trained and can maintain the relationships," says John Michels, a partner in the Chicago office of law firm McGuireWoods LLP.
  • During your deployment, "remain connected with your employer by email and letters," says Todd Uterstaedt, a vice president and human resources consultant at Right Management Consultants in Cincinnati.
If You're Unsatisfied with Your Terms of Reemployment
  • First try to work out the situation with your supervisor.
  • Next, take your question or complaint to Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense-sponsored nonprofit group staffed largely by volunteers.
  • If ESGR can't resolve your situation, go to VETS.
  • Still unsatisfied? Escalate your complaint to the Department of Labor's Office of the Solicitor or hire private legal counsel.

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