Must an Employer Grant a Leave of Absence for Deployment?

us-army-soldiers-army-men-54098_free pixelsQ: One of my employees is a member of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She notified me that she has been asked by NDMS to deploy for hurricane victim medical assistance duty. I am short employees and need her to be at work for our organization. Do I have the right to refuse her request for leave of absence to do NDMS duty?

A: No. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), provides that NDMS members are intermittent federal employees considered members of the “uniformed services.” Under USERRA, if a member of the uniformed services, including an NDMS member, provides the employer with advance notice, the employer must allow the employee leave of absence and reinstate them to their prior employment (or equivalent employment) upon the employee’s request. There is no small business or employer hardship exception to federal deployment/activation.