On July 19, 2012, a Presidential memorandum was issued to strengthen compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), to protect veterans in the Federal Government from any discrimination due to their uniformed service, in accordance to 38 U.S.C. 4301-4335. The Presidential Memorandum discusses the need for service members "to be reintegrated as quickly and efficiently as possible when they return to civilian life.” While addressing veteran reintegration the Memorandum also calls upon Federal agencies to support this effort through outreach, education, and oversight.
To support an engagement strategy, a Government-wide Veteran Reintegration Framework has been created in collaboration with the White House working group and Council on Veterans Employment to assist agencies and their Guard and Reserve members who may be called to active duty.
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The Reintegration Framework outlines a systematic approach to reintegrating Guard and Reserve members by employing strategies creating a culture of support as they deploy and return to the Federal workplace. This framework is intended to be a tool to help Federal agencies develop effective workforce planning methods to improve reintegration while reducing substantiated USERRA violations and claims.
The enclosed toolkit was created to assist in the implementation of the Reintegration Framework. It consists of six components: references, guides, facts, frequently asked questions, training, and templates. The toolkit and its components are available for supervisors and Federal employees who are Guard and Reserve members for their convenience.
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Workforce Planning and Mission Impact
Government-wide Veteran reintegration focuses on Federal employees who are Guard and Reserve members who may be activated for military service. Utilizing Department of Defense data on Guard and Reserve members, the agencies will be able to identify these valued Federal employees.
Succession planning is part of workforce planning and is designed to support the continued effective performance of an organization by identifying the work to be transitioned to other members in the event of deployment of an employee. To assist with this planning, a reintegration toolkit is provided to help establish guidance and apply best practices.
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The deployment lifecycle is built around an environment of trust for a Guard or Reserve member who faces the possibility of deployment. Successful reintegration of deployed Guard and Reserve members into the Federal workplace benefits from a systemic approach to workforce management. This approach allows Federal agencies to view the reintegration of Guard and Reserve members in terms of a three stage lifecycle process: pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment.
The Pre-deployment stage begins when the employee receives notification or orders to perform military service and ends when he/she departs the agency for the deployment assignment. Agencies should:
- Discuss USERRA protections
- Understand deployment durations
- Outline agency and employee responsibilities
- Provide USERRA refresher training to Guard and Reserve members, immediate supervisors, and HR specialists
- Draft an agreement between the Guard or Reserve member and supervisors/management on roles related to:
- An engagement plan
- Communication methods as appropriate
- Storage of personal items
During the deployment stage, the deployed employee’s primary focus is on his/her military mission and duties. However, exercising an engagement plan as appropriate permits the employee to stay connected to the agency. Agency news, activities, and information will help promote a seamless return to the agency. Agencies should:
- Implement the “engagement” plan by:
- Contacting the Guard or Reserve member as agreed
- Providing the employee information about the activities of the agency, job opportunities, and applicable training programs
- Providing points of contact (1st and 2nd Supervisors, family members, HR, etc.)
- Provide opportunities for training or promotion by:
- Providing access to e-learning opportunities via Learning Management System and other training opportunities, as appropriate
- Notifying the employee of promotion opportunities and methods of consideration
The Post-deployment stage begins when the Guard or Reserve member notifies the agency of his or her pending return. The post-deployment stage can be a time of great stress for the returning employee and the agency. Successful navigation of this stage is important to making the returning employee feel welcomed, honored, and smoothly transitioned back into the workforce.
It is also an opportunity for agency supervisors and the employee to identify new skills developed while deployed and outline an approach to potentially utilize those new skills within the organization. Agencies should:
- Create a formal re-boarding process to facilitate the employee’s successful return to the agency by:
- Re-establishing access to building, personal items, and other resources (badge, computer, office, etc.)
- Reacquainting employee to the work environment and technology
- Offer a “Welcome Back” celebration and written acknowledgement as appropriate, which are supported by agency leadership and fellow employees
- Support returning Guard and Reserve member’s resumption of assigned duties by:
- Reviewing the alignment of their work with the mission and strategic priorities of the organization
- Identifying any assistance or training necessary to perform assigned duties
- Discussing new skills developed while the employee was deployed and how they may be utilized
- Communicating performance expectations
- Following agency procedures for performance feedback
- Conducting follow-up conversations within six months of reintegration to include reintegration or exit interviews
By successfully employing, a reintegration process for deployable Guard and Reserve members an agency will demonstrate its commitment to enforcing USERRA, while valuing the veteran’s service. The agency’s actions should have a positive impact and enhance compliance with USERRA.
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USERRA Reintegration Toolkit
- Sample Role Matrix
- Sample Continuity Plan
- Sample Letter of Agreement
- Sample Checklist for Employees
- Sample Checklist for Supervisors
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