The Congressional Budget Office says reserve activations are getting to be more expensive for employers as well as for the reservists and their families.[@@]
With the regular military stretched to the limits by the prolonged war in Iraq, the Defense Department is relying on more and longer reserve activations to fill the gaps.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 guarantees reservists’ right to return to their civilian jobs after service and requires employers to let reservists continue their civilian health coverage for 18 months after they are activated. USERRA also spells out the rights of reservists who return to employer-sponsored health plans and retirement plans once their tours of active duty end.
“Although USERRA provided employment protections to reservist employees, it might be exacerbating the difficulties that call-ups present for those individuals’ employers,” the CBO states. “The legislation limits firms’ flexibility in avoiding vacancies and imposes additional costs on some employers.”
Tax credits, subsidized loans or subsidizing call-up insurance could ease employers’ financial burdens, but that would cost the government money, the CBO says.
Subsidies that would compensate employers for actual losses might be less expensive but harder to administer, the CBO says.