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Monday, February 28, 2005

Support for reservists dwindling among employers 
This is from the Society of Human Resource Managers (www.shrm.org):

In 2003, 33 percent of employers maintained full pay for those exempt employees and 25 percent for nonexempt employees. That is expected to fall by more than half—to 15 percent—for those with exempt and nonexempt employees serving. The number of employers maintaining full pay for those serving who are nonexempt plant employees fell from 19 percent in 2003 to an anticipated 13 percent in 2005.

These numbers are coupled with a drastic increase expected in the number of employers not offering any pay to employees serving in the Guard or Reserves in 2005. In 2003, 31 percent of employers did not offer any pay to exempt employees, and 33 percent offered none to nonexempt employees serving in the Guard or Reserves. That is expected to reach 50 percent of employers not offering any pay to exempt and nonexempt employees serving.

For nonexempt plant workers, it looks worse, rising from 40 percent of employers in 2003 not offering any pay to 54 percent not doing so.

And while some organizations pay a differential between what the employee earns during military service and his or her normal wages, that number also is decreasing.

In 2003, 36 percent of employers paid a differential to exempt employees serving in the Guard and Reserves. That is expected to drop to 34 percent in 2005. Nonexempt office workers and nonexempt plant workers are expected to fare no better. The respective figures drop from 42 percent in 2003 to 34 percent in 2005 and from 41 percent in 2003 to 33 percent in 2005.



I don't blame the employers. It was one thing in the days where you could offer a pay differential to guardsmen and reservists and reasonably expect that they'd be gone for AT and maybe one more service school each year and that's it. Longer deployments were comparatively rare, and could actually, theoretically, be insured against (i.e., key personnel insurance).

But now any employer who hires a reservist needs to confront not only the possibility, but the near-certainty of deployment within three or four years of hire. And that deployment is likely to last 14-18 months or even more.

Employers cannot afford to pay employees for nonproductive time for that long. If they felt they had to, the result would be rampant discrimination against military employees.

Soldiers are already leaving the military because of rampant job conflicts anyway.

Idea: Maybe it's time to provide civilian employers of mobilized guardsmen/reservists some sort of compensation to defray costs of maintaining benefits, pay differentials, retraining employees to take over the reservists' job function, retraining a reservist whose skills atrophy or become obsolete while he's deployed, and temporary recruiting and hiring.

The idea: make civilian employers happier to hire guardsmen and reservists in the first place, cause them to wince less when a soldier is activated, and encourage soldiers to stay in. Or at least make employers less willing to pressure soldiers to leave the service, which has already happened to me and at least three other captains in my battalion. Two of them left. I haven't. Yet.

Splash, out

Jason

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