Advising employers on active-duty workers |

Advising employers on active-duty workers

John Seelmeyer

Even if National Guard and Reserve members from Nevada weren’t being called up for active duty in the Middle East, Mike Sullivan thinks employers should make certain their personnel policies meet federal standards.

But the drumbeat of call-ups continues to create some urgency around the question, says Sullivan, a retailer and northern Nevada volunteer chairman of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

The group, a Department of Defense agency better known simply as ESGR, ensures that employers in the area know their responsibilities to employees who are members of the National Guard or Reserves.

Essentially, Sullivan said last week, employers’ responsibilities are two-fold:

* Make sure there’s no discrimination in hiring.

* Make sure employers know they need to provide comparable jobs at comparable pay to members of the Guard and Reserves who return from active duty.

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A Web site spells out the details of federal law, and ESGR encourages employers to make sure their personnel handbooks comply.

Whenever possible, the group also encourages employers to go a step further for workers who are called to active duty.

For instance, Sullivan said last week, ESGR strongly encourages employers to maintain health insurance for families of workers called to active duty.

Although dependents will be covered by military health insurance, they’re required to be treated only at military hospitals a major inconvenience for many.

It’s important, too, that employers communicate their policies to the frontline supervisors who will need to make arrangements when a worker is called to active duty, Sullivan said.

The 12 active volunteers involved with ESGR in northern Nevada have seen an increase in their workload in recent months.

“Our reason for being is to help employers understand the rules up front,” Sullivan said last week.

“It’s an ongoing process, but the tempo has increased.”

The committee has a representative in each of the major communities of northern Nevada, allowing them to deal quickly with local issues as they arise, and also has a trained ombudsman to work through problems that may arise.

Employers who have questions can contact Sullivan at his business,Windy Moon Quilts in Reno.

The phone number is 323-4777.