Managing military leave from a school district perspective can create challenges for HR staff as they navigate leave options and federal and state requirements.
Determining which leave and requirements apply depends on whether the employee is taking leave for active duty, for a family member’s covered active duty, or to care for a covered service member or veteran with a serious illness or injury as a result of active duty.
Leave for employee’s active duty
Texas Gov’t Code §437.202 provides any employee who is a member of the Texas National Guard, Texas State Guard, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a state or federally authorized Urban Search and Rescue Team up to 15 days of paid leave per fiscal year for authorized military training or duty ordered or authorized by proper authority without loss of accumulated leave.
Effective September 1, 2021, an employee called to active duty by the governor or other appropriate authority in response to a disaster is entitled to up to seven additional workdays of paid leave in a fiscal year. While on such leave, an employer may not deduct sick leave, personal time, or vacation time, nor subject the employee to loss of time or efficiency rating (Tex. Gov’t. Code §437.202).
Paid military leave doesn’t require advance approval. Employees called to active duty are eligible to take military leave if the employee or an appropriate military officer gives advance written or oral notice to the employer of the employee’s military service requirement.
State law (Tex. Gov’t Code §613.002) and the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provide specific rights, including continuation of health care coverage and reemployment rights.
Family medical leave (FML)
FML for military caregivers or qualifying exigencies only applies to an employee’s covered service family member. It doesn’t apply when an employee is called to active duty.
Qualifying exigency leave allows an employee to address certain urgent situations that result from a military family member’s covered active duty or call to covered active duty and take up to 12 weeks of FML. Covered active duty means the service member’s armed forces deployment to a foreign country under a federal call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation.
An employee is eligible to take up to 26 weeks of military caregiver leave to provide care to a covered service member with a serious injury or illness sustained or aggravated by service in the line of duty while on active duty. If the family member is a veteran, the injury or illness must manifest itself before or within five years after the individual leaves service.
The following resources include additional details about notice requirements, health insurance coverage, use of accrued leave, reemployment rights, and covered family members FML provisions:
- HR Library (myTASB login required)
- TASB School Law eSource
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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