TO: Participating Employers
FROM: Office of the Administrative Manager
RE: Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA)
This is the eleventh in a series of Bulletins issued to assist Employers in reporting contributions to the Trust in accordance with Trustee Policy and applicable federal law.
The purpose of this bulletin is to reaffirm reporting requirements involving the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA). The Trust has previously provided information on compliance with USERRA; however, because many participants in the Plan have served or are on active duty in the military as a result of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Trustees want to ensure that employers have the information necessary to report the proper imputed service to the Trust for employees who have left employment to serve on active duty and then returned to civilian life and their jobs.
USERRA became law on December 12, 1994. Its requirements apply to all employers, both public and private regardless of size. Its purpose is to encourage non-career military service with a minimum of disruption to civilian careers. This is the most recent in a series of laws that establishes the rights of returning service members and the obligations of employers and pension trusts like the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust. As a contributing employer to the Trust, you have certain obligations under USERRA regarding any employee who leaves employment covered by the Plan to enter a branch of the uniformed services and thereafter returns to work for you during the time period his/her USERRA reemployment rights are protected. If those conditions are met, the Act requires an Employer to do the following:
- You must notify the Trust in writing within 30 days that the returning service member has returned to work for your company or as soon thereafter as you become aware that the returning service member has reemployment rights under USERRA.
- You must pay retroactive pension contributions to the Trust on the employee’s behalf for the period he/she was absent from covered employment as if the reemployed service member had remained continuously employed. Such contributions must be remitted to the Plan within 90 days after the service member is reemployed although the Trustees will consider extending that deadline if you demonstrate to their satisfaction that the circumstances made it impossible or unreasonable for you to comply with this 90 day deadline. (emphasis added).
Under USERRA, the employer is not obligated to pay interest on pension contributions for periods of military service. However, if the required contributions are not remitted within the 90-day time frame (plus any extensions granted by the Trustees), the contributions will be considered delinquent and pursued under the Trust’s delinquency procedures in the same manner as other overdue pension contributions, thereby exposing the employer to liability for interest on the contributions owed from their due date, plus liquidated damages and attorneys fees. Employer compliance with USERRA will also be monitored as part of the Trust’s employer audit program.
The Trust is willing to work with you in resolving questions that may arise with regard to your pension obligations under USERRA for employees who are covered by the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan. When questions arise, please contact the Pension Accounting Supervisor at the Area Administrative Office of the Trust.
If you have questions about any other obligation you may have under USERRA to your employees or to other fringe benefit plans, we urge you to consult with your legal advisors or the administrators of those other plans. You can also secure information on USERRA via the web by searching for “USERRA the Law.”