Included within the comprehensive Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) recently signed into law by President Obama are two minor amendments to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) designed to clarify employers’ obligations with regard to some returning military service members. As a practical matter, the amendments are likely to have little or no impact on most companies subject to USERRA.

p>Under USERRA, employers generally must offer reemployment to individuals whose employment is interrupted by military service. This reemployment obligation is not indefinite, however. Subject to some exceptions, returning service members are not eligible for reemployment if they have accumulated more than five years’ worth of service-related absences away from their employer.

The two amendments contained in the NDAA slightly expand the scope of the exemptions to this five-year cap by prohibiting an employer from counting toward the five-year limit any service performed by a service member who is ordered into service:

  • – By the Secretary of Defense, because a state governor requested assistance in responding to disaster or emergency; or
  • – Because the Secretary of the Army, Navy, or Air Force determines that a combatant command requires augmentation for a preplanned mission.