Published Date: 03/03/2014
By George Ports
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides job and benefit protections to returning service personnel who have been on military leaves of absence, including their company-sponsored 401(k) plans.
USERRA requires that the time spent on military leave be counted as covered service with the company for eligibility, vesting and accrual purposes. Returning service personnel should be treated as if they had been employed regardless of the type of retirement plan provided by the employer.
Although there is no requirement for an employer to make contributions to a service member’s 401(k) while on military leave, the employer is required to make contributions to the plan that would have been made if the service member had been continuously employed upon return from leave. Returning employees from military leave are given an extended period of time to repay employee contributions to the plan (three times the period of military service with a maximum of five years).
For additional information regarding benefit protections for returning service personnel, consult your plan administrator and/or go to http://bit.ly/ML-R.