Family Programs

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve


The staff and volunteers of EMPLOYER SUPPORT OF THE GUARD AND RESERVE(ESGR), a Department of Defense office, seek to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR does this by advocating mutually beneficial initiatives; recognizing outstanding employer support; increasing awareness of applicable laws and policies; resolving potential conflicts between employers and their Service member; and acting as the employers' principal advocate with DoD.

ESGR volunteers attend mobilization/demobilzation briefings to answer questions. Call ESGR toll-free at 1-800-336-4590 or contact your local National Guard or Reserve unit for more information.

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ESGR informs and educates Service members and their civilian employers regarding their rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemploymnet Rights Act (USERRA). Statutory authority for USERRA resides with the Department of Labor, and ESGR serves as a neutral, free resource to employers and Service members.


ESGR presents Department of Defense awards to employers that support employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.


Trained ombudsmen provide information and mediation concerning the USERRA law. ESGR has hundreds of trained volunteer ombudsmen throughout the country ready to provide free mediation. Many conflicts arise due to a misunderstanding rather than a purposeful violation of the law, and ESGR can assist in resolving these issues and more.


ESGR advocates relevant initiatives on behalf of employers, Service members and their families. ESGR promotes the importance of employer support through regular communications to military leadership, and serves as a communication link between employers and the DoD.

Almost half of our military force resides in the National Guard and Reserve. The men and women who serve in the Reserve Component are unique in that they also have civilian employers. Support of America's employers and the employees they share with the Nation ensures the viability of the all-volunteer force, and thus our national security.


Copies of the USERRA Statute, law reviews, the Federal Code of Regulations for USERRA Implementation, a non-technical guide to understanding the law, and a free downloadable USERRA poster.

Links to a free online USERRA training at

ESGR volunteers to visit your workplace and provide USERRA training.

Service Members

Samples of military leave of absence forms, sample letters, service policies, and tips to help avoid employment challenges.

Wallet cards and other resources to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under USERRA.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is the Federal law that establishes rights and responsibilities for members of the National Guard and Reserve and their civilian employers. USERRA affects employment, reemployment, benefits, and retention for uniformed Service memvers.

ESGR provides neutral mediation of employment conflicts, but Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) to investigate alleged violations of USERRA. If DoL finds an employer has likely violated USERRA and is unable to secure voluntary compliance, DoL may refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for legal action.


To be eligible for protection under USERRA, the Service member must report back to work or apply for reemployment within the following guidelines:

-- 1-30 days of service: Report next scheduled work day after 8 hours of rest plus normal travel time from military training site to place of civilian employment.

-- 31-180 days of service: Apply for reinstatement within 14 days following completion of service.

-- 181+ days of service: Apply for reinstatement with 90 days following completion of service.

To recognize employers who support their National Guard and Reserve employees, ESGR offers:

The Patriot Award honors individual supervisors for their support when nominated by the employee Guardsman, Reservist, or family member acting on their behalf.

The Above and Biyond Award recognizes employers who have gone above and beyond the requirements of USERRA.

The Pro Patria Award may be presented annually to one small, one large and one public sector employer in each state or territory, for exceptional support.

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the Department of Defense to employers for their outstanding support of National Guard and Reserve employees. Nominations must be made by Guardsmen, Reservists, or family members acting on their behalf.

More information is available at:

The Statement of Support (SoS) program anchors ESGR's effort to gain and maintain employer support for the National Guard and Reserve. By signing an SoS, employers make thes commitments:

We full recognize, honor and comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

We will provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage those employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

We appreciate the values, leadership and unique skills Service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to emply Guardsmen, Reservists, transitioning Service members and Veterans.

W will continually recognize and support our country's Service members and their families in peace, in crisis, and in war.

To request your Statement of Support, visit:

Many employment challenges can be avoided by being candid with your employer about your obligations as a Service member.

Tell your employer about your militar assignment and skills you have gained in the military.

Know your rights and responsibilities outlined by USERRA.

Mandatory - Provide your employer/supervisor with drill schedules, annual training plans and any extra time-off requirements, preferably in writing, as early as possible.

Be aware that short active duty tours, exercises, and years of active duty for non-contigency operations are generally subject to a cumulative 5-year time limit under USERRA; after that limit is reached, you may no longer have reemployment rights.

Your employer is not obligated to reschedule you to make up work missed while you are performing military service, unless employees who miss work for non-military reasons are afforded that opportunity also; further, you cannot be required to find replacement workers for shifts you miss during military service.

You are allowed to use earned vacation while performing military service, but you cannot be required to do so.

The requires the employer to provide only an unpaid leave of absence for your time away. More information is available from the Office of Personnel Management site at and

Show appreciation for supportive employers by nominating your supervisor or organization for an ESGR award (listed under Recongnition).

As an employer, you are vital in enabling your National Guard and Reserve employees to serve our country. Your active support and encouragement are critical to their success. Here is how you can support your employees:

Attend open houses and public functions at local military units; talk about the National Guard and Reserve with military and civilian leaders in your community; ask your employees how they fit into the "big picture" of national defense.

Get to know your employee's military commanders and supervisors; ask them to provide you with advance notice of your employee's annual miltary duty schedule.

Recognize and publicize National Guard and Reserve employees' dedication and commitment to your business and the Nation.

Sign a Statement of Support and display it prominently.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) applies to all public and private employers in the United States to include federal, state and local governments; regardless of size. Providing that Service members meet all criteria, it requires employers to:

Allow employees to participate in military service.

Reinstate military members following service.

Accumulate seniority, including pension benefits.

Train or retrain job skills, including accommodations for the disabled.

Protect against discrimination.

More than 4,600 volunteers and support staff are located in all 50 U.S. states, Guam-Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. ESGR's dedicated volunteers come from all walks of life - business, civic leaders, patriotic citizens.

Volunteering just a few hours a month, you can improve employer relations for the brave men and women that place themselves in harm's way, leave their families, and put their careers on hold as they preserve our way of life. They could not perform their critical mission without your support.

As an ESGR volunteer serving our Nation's defense and your community, volunteer hours also count toward the President's Volunteer Service Award. For more information or to track your service hours go to:

USERRA Customer Service Center
8am to 6pm (ET) Monday - Friday
1-800-336-4590 option 1

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve