Holiday Pay For Reservists

A court has ruled that the significantly longer leaves of absence required by Reservists is the reason that they do not deserve holiday pay during their active-duty period.

Federal employees serving as jurors or court witnesses, on the other hand, do deserve holiday pay.

Since many federal employees who have been called to active duty are now serving for extended periods of time, they are seeing a lot of holidays pass by while on deployment.

The question is: Do their employing agencies have to pay them for all those holidays?

No, said the U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit in a recent decision.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act does not require agencies to provide service members on active duty military leave the same benefits enjoyed by employees on court duty leave.

In Tully vs. Department of Justice, a returned Reservist contended that the Bureau of Prisons should pay him for the 27 holidays that occurred during his two and one-half years of active duty because it provided holiday pay to employees who took paid leaves to attend judicial proceedings as jurors or witnesses.

The Merit Systems Protection Board found that the agency did not have to accord him the same benefits enjoyed by employees on court leave, given the substantially different lengths of absences. The board found that the petitioner’s leave for active service was significantly longer than the typical period of court leave for service as a juror or witness.

The Federal Circuit agreed, finding that the USERRA entitled service members to benefits provided only to employees who took leaves comparable to the leaves provided for military service.

The substantially different expected durations of leaves of absence for military service and court duty supported the MSPB’s finding that the Bureau of Prisons did not owe the petitioner payment for holidays that occurred while he was on leave without pay to serve on active duty in the Army.

The court found that the MSPB appropriately relied on the difference in the expected duration of the two forms of leave in determining whether they were comparable.

To keep track of your employees’ holiday pay when they are absent from work either due to court or military service, you may wish to consider investing in a time and attendance system, which automates the process of recording and paying holiday pay to your employees.

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