Properly crediting military service for salary purposes requires an understanding of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the commissioner rules for creditable service.
The rules for recognizing service under USERRA are different than those for recording service on the Teacher Service Record. USERRA requires the current employer to consider all military service when a service member is reemployed, whereas the creditable service rules (19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §153.1021(h)(16)) are more restrictive and apply to subsequent employers.
USERRA Escalator Principle
USERRA provides reemployment rights to employees who wish to return to the employer they worked for when they entered active military service. Employees who wish to return to the district must be reemployed in the position they would have held if employment has not been interrupted or reassigned to an equivalent or similar position, provided they are still qualified to perform the required duties of the position. They also must be paid according to the pay plan as if they had been continuously employed. This is known as the USERRA escalator principle.
Employees are also entitled to reinstatement of the seniority, rights, and benefits they would have attained if they had remained continuously employed. Examples include awards based on length of employment and automated salary adjustments. Benefits do not include back pay for wages or salary lost during military leave or leave the employee would have accrued if continuously employed unless these benefits are provided for other forms of leave. For example, state personal leave would accumulate while the employee is on leave for active military service, but local leave may not.
Subsequent employers are not bound by these rules and are only required to consider credit service properly recorded on the Teacher Service Record for salary increment purposes.
Teacher Service Record
Leave time for military service should be recorded on the Teacher Service Record as creditable years of service according to 19 TAC §153.1021(h)(16)(C)(ii), which is different than the USERRA requirement. Voluntary military service is creditable only for the first period of active duty and only if the service does not exceed four years. To receive credit, an individual must have been a professional employee of any entity recognized for creditable service for salary increment purposes within 12 months prior to entry into active duty.
Additional criteria apply including the following:
- Service must be in the military forces of the United States of America (e.g., Army, Marine Corp, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Guard)
- Form DD-21 or other official discharge papers must be filed with the teacher service record showing that military service was in the capacity of an enlisted man or woman or commissioned officer, release from active duty was under honorable conditions, and dates of entry and release from active duty
Review Your Records Carefully
Confusion over the USERRA escalator principle and creditable service rules may result in a district recording all service on the Teacher Service Record. As a result, it’s important to carefully review a new hire’s service to ensure no more than four years of military service have been credited.
Additional information on maintaining service records is covered in the HR Services recorded webinar Service Record Management. Information on leave for military service is available in the HR Library. For community colleges, see Leave for Military Service - College.
April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.
Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.
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