Law Strengthens Employment Protections for Service Members

Authors: Kelly A. Cahill, Matt Marcellis

September 28, 2018

On August 26, 2018, Senate Bill 3547 became law. This public act creates the Service-Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA) which seeks to clarify and strengthen existing laws designed to protect Illinois service members’ employment rights while they are fulfilling military requirements. The law also gives the Illinois Attorney General’s office the authority to file civil lawsuits to enforce ISERRA and requires her office to create the position of ISERRA Advocate to provide training and information to employers and service members.

Additionally, ISERRA limits the concurrent exercise of power by home rule units with regard to service member employment protections. Among the provisions of ISERRA are several items of particular significance to public sector employers. First, retroactive upgrades will now entitle a service member employee to back pay and other benefits attributable to the interval between discharge and retroactive upgrade. Additionally, during periods of military annual training, public employees shall continue to receive full compensation as a public employee for up to 30 days per calendar year, up from 15, and military leave for purposes of receiving concurrent compensation may be performed non-synchronously. Furthermore, concurrent compensation must be paid for active duty, but not for active duty without pay.

ISERRA also increases the limit for differential compensation for voluntary active military service from 40 days per calendar year to 60 days per calendar year. Furthermore, public employees who have exhausted concurrent compensation under ISERRA in a calendar year can now receive differential compensation for authorized military leave in the same calendar year. ISERRA also removes certain exceptions to provisions concerning additional benefits for public employee members of a reserve component, ensuring that employer-based health plan benefits will continue. Finally, a public employer’s share of the full premium and administrative costs for employer-based health plan benefits shall continue to be paid by the employer for active duty beyond 30 days.

Municipalities employing Active Reserve and National Guard members should ensure they fully understand their obligations and the employment rights these military members enjoy.

Kelly A. Cahill