Leadership: October 12, 2002


The Reserves have been hit hard during the last year of the War on Terror, and employers have become even more unhappy over the situation than usual. Employers are required to give reservists time off for call-ups and training, and to give them their jobs back when they return. The law is basically intended to prohibit employers from punishing reservists or trying to convince them to leave the reserves as the deployments complicate civilian work schedules. The military doesn't keep a list of where each reservist is employed (fearing this would violate the privacy act, and because it would be an administrative burden to create and update such a list), but has now decided it must do so. It previously relied on briefing the soldiers as to their rights and the obligations of their employers, and expecting the soldiers to pass this along, but many employers don't get the word and many soldiers don't understand it. Some employers try to claim that any voluntary call-up isn't covered and that joining a unit likely to be called up amounts to the same thing. Other employers are simply unaware of what is or isn't legal, and some try to skate along the edges of the law (firing reservists for any plausible reason not related to their military status or unofficially offering them rewards to leave the military or avoid deployment overseas). The Pentagon is scrambling to set up a special database so that employers can find out exactly what the law requires and allows.--Stephen V Cole


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