Leaves and Absences from Work: Military Leave

Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13

Any regular (continuing or terminal) Western Michigan University employee who enters the United States military service will be granted an unpaid leave of absence and reinstatement privileges as prescribed by applicable law, namely the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.


"Military service" refers to voluntary or involuntary performance of duty with the Armed Services, or their reserve components, including the Coast Guard, the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, or the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

Military leave is available to all full- and part-time, non-temporary employees of the University, including probationary employees.

Reinstatement requirements

To qualify for reinstatement, employees must:

  1. Provide their supervisor with written or verbal notice of impending military leave, unless such a notice is impossible or unreasonable.
  2. Provide the University with written confirmation of release, under honorable conditions, from military service.
  3. If total military leave is less than five years, employees must apply for reinstatement within specified time periods (see following "application for reinstatement" provisions). Employees in military service for more than five years may be ineligible for reinstatement.
  4. Apply for reinstatement by contacting Human Resources or their departmental supervisor in writing, by phone, or in person.

Application for reinstatement

When applying for reinstatement, employees must do the following within the stated time limitations:

  1. If service is less than 31 days, employees must report at the beginning of the first regularly scheduled workday following release from service.
  2. If service is between 31 and 180 days, employees must report no later than 14 days following release from service.
  3. If service is greater than 180 days, employees must report no later than 90 days following release from service.
  4. Deadlines for reinstatement application may be extended for a maximum of two years for employees who are hospitalized or convalescing from an injury caused by active military duty.

University reinstatement policy

  1. If employees meet reinstatement requirements, and have served less than 91 days, the University will restore them to a position that they would have attained had they remained continuously employed.
  2. Employees with 91 or more days of military service may receive a position of comparable seniority, status, and pay.
  3. If the returning employee's skills need upgrading to meet the requirements for a prior or promoted position, the University will make reasonable efforts to refresh or update these skills unless such efforts would create undue hardship for the University.
  4. When an employee with a service-related disability is not qualified to perform the essential functions of their job after the University has made reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability, the employee may be placed in another position of comparable pay, rank, and seniority.
  5. Employees who are not qualified for their job for reasons other than a service-related disability may be placed in a lesser position in terms of status and pay for which they are qualified. In such a case, the employee's seniority is maintained.

Benefits and seniority

  1. Seniority. Upon reinstatement, employees are restored to the seniority they would have attained if they had been on duty at the University continuously.
  2. Family and medical leave eligibility. Upon reinstatement, eligibility for family and medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act shall be calculated as though no break in employment has occurred.
  3. Pension plan and vesting. Employee pension plan accrual and vesting continues during military service as though no break in employment has occurred. The University will make any accrued contributions to the employee's pension plan after the employee has returned to active employment for 90 days. The employee may elect to make up any employee contributions missed during the military leave. Such contributions must be paid into the plan within a period not to exceed three times the length of the military leave, up to a maximum of five years.
  4. Health insurance. During the first 30 days of military leave, the University will continue to provide group health insurance for the employee; employees will be billed for their share of any enrolled dependent's health coverage. Employees serving for more than 30 days may elect to continue health insurance coverage for themselves and any enrolled dependent(s) for up to 24 months. The cost to the employee is 102 percent of the insurance premium. Upon reinstatement, the employee's health plan will resume as if their employment had not been interrupted. (Revised April 2005).
  5. Paid leave. Employees may elect, but are not required, to use any accrued annual leave or similar leave with pay during their military leave. Annual and sick leave, or any other similar paid leave time, will not continue to accrue during any unpaid portion of the military leave of absence
  6. Other benefits. Benefits contingent upon active employment, other than those stated above, will not continue during an unpaid military leave of absence.

Protection against discharge

An employee who is reinstated under the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and has served 31 to 180 days cannot be discharged by the University without cause for six months following reinstatement. If the length of military service was more than 180 days, but less than five years, the employee cannot be discharged without cause for one year following reinstatement.

This policy is intended to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. To the extent that any provision of this policy is ambiguous and/or contradicts the Act, the language of the Act will prevail.

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