Notifying your Employer
"You're going where!?!"
For Navy Reservists, informing civilian employers of a mobilization can be a nerve-wrecking experience, especially for those that hope to return to their job after their IA is complete. As OCONUS military operations continue to fade from the news, IA Sailors are reporting with increasing frequency employers who respond with "are we even still fighting that war", and in some cases employer exhaustion with efforts to support our citizen Sailors. In response to this trend, mobilizing RC IA Sailors are advised to be tactful and appreciative when they notify their employer, while also ensuring they understand their rights and benefits.
Be Tactful & Appreciative
Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your employer such that your employer's main concern is for you personally, closely followed by how soon you'll be back on the job. If this is the case, then you have all the more reason to include updates to your coworkers in your deployment communication plan so that they feel like they are a part of what you're doing to serve your country.
Good relationship or not, you can't go wrong with making sure your announcement is tactful and appreciative: appreciative of the opportunity the company has given you to do your job up until now and especially appreciative of the sacrifice they will now have to make to continue to do that job without you. When you mobilize, you are not the only one making sacrifices to serve your country -- and in this case, your employer is certainly a shareholder in your sacrifice and ultimately in your success.
Some communication aids include:
- Sample notification letters prepared by Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
- Per the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), you may ask an officer to notify your employer on your behalf
- DoD encourages you to provide a minimum of 30 days notice to your employer
Know Your Rights
Your first step to informing your employer might be to review your company's employee benefits guide, usually available from your HR representative. In fact, before meeting with your supervisor, a discussion with you HR representative might help you be prepared to answer some of the questions your supervisor might immediately raise if he or she has never experienced the mobilization of a subordinate before. Hopefully, your company already has in place a policy for military leave / furlough for activated reservists. Even if your company does not have such a policy, you can educate yourself and help educate your employer with the following resources:
Know Your Benefits
A number of companies that recruit veterans include in their incentive package a pay differential benefit for activated reservists. Check with your companies HR department to see if this is the case for you. These benefit programs will pay the employee the difference between their military salary and their civilian salary if their civilian salary is higher, for some fixed length of time. Often these benefits only take into account military base pay, which can result in receiving a pay differential even when your total military pay (BAH, BAS, special pays) is more than your civilian salary.