Maine law protects you when you are in the National Guard or the Reserves of the United States Armed Forces and receive orders. When these orders require you to take leave from your job you are provided certain rights. These rights include:
- The right to return to the same job at the same pay, seniority and benefits (as if you had remained continuously employed)
- Leave taken for military training cannot be used to deny you normal vacation, sick leave, bonuses and other benefits you normally would expect to receive
- You have a period of time to report back to work. How long depends on how long you were away. In addition to the time you need to safely return home from your training or service, the law provides:
- You have 24 hours to report back to work if your service was 3 days or less
- You have 48 hours to report back to work if your service was for 4 to 15 days
- You have 72 hours to report back to work if your service was for 16 to 30 days
- You have 14 days to report back to work if your service was for 31 to 180 days
- You have 90 days to report back to work if your service was for more than 180 days
- If you become disabled during your military service you have other protections:
- Your employer must try to help you do your previous job despite your disability
- If you still can't do your previous job your employer must give you another position with equal pay, seniority and other benefits, or;
- Another job that is closest to your original job in terms of pay, seniority and benefits
- During the first 30 days you are away your employer must continue your existing health, dental and life insurance benefits. This must be at no additional cost to you. You have the right to keep these benefits after 30 days, but you will have to pay for them at the same cost your employer paid.
You Are Required to Give Your Employer Notice
In order to have these rights you must give reasonable notice to your employer of your expected absence, if you can. Your employer can also ask that you provide confirmation from the military of your orders. A sample form is available for you to use.
Maine's law leaves certain questions unanswered. These include:
- Can your employer refuse to re-employ you because its business has changed?
- If your former position no longer exists must the employer place you in another job?
- Is your employer required to lay off another employee, even one more senior than you, if your former position is no longer available?
- Are you entitled to all these protections even if you don't receive an honorable discharge?
Finally, Maine's law says that a court can make your employer pay your attorney's fees if you have to go to court to get your job back. Generally, you must have given reasonable notice if it was possible and your employer must be in violation of one of the Maine laws above for you to win..
Maine's law is Title 26 MRSA §811.
There is a federal law that also protects you when called to active duty or military training. That law is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). The federal law is much more detailed than Maine's law. It provides many more details about exactly what protections you have and what limitations exist. Some of the protections provided by the federal law are greater than that provided by Maine's law. Other times Maine's law provides more protection. This article does not provide details about the federal law. But, it is important to know that if Maine's law doesn't protect your job the Federal law may.
There is a very good description of the federal law in "The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide" on www.statesidelegal.org. You can also find the federal law (Title 38 USC Section 4301 et seq.) here.
If you have questions or need help, contact:
Bureau of Veterans' Services
117 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0117
The Bureau of Veterans' Services also has offices in many other towns in Maine. Contact the main office for the office closest to you; or visit their website for a list of all their locations.
Find more legal information and help for servicemembers, veterans and families on Stateside Legal