FAQs - Uniformed Services/Military Leave
What You Need to Know:
The following information answers basic questions for UK employees who are called to active duty with the armed forces or who voluntarily enlist. These are general questions and answers regarding military leave and benefits. This document should not be used as an official interpretation of any federal or state law or University policy that may apply. The official policy governing Uniformed Services Leave is found in Human Resources Policy and Procedure 75.0.
It is important that affected UK employees contact the military to determine what benefits will be provided by the military during active duty prior to making changes to UK benefits. For some employees, it may be beneficial to drop University coverage during active duty, while other employees may need to continue current University benefits.
General Military Leave Questions
- Is there a limit to the amount of military leave an employee has a right to take?
Yes. There is no differentiation between voluntary and involuntary military duty, there is a 5-year cumulative service limit on the amount of military leave an employee may use and still retain reemployment rights.
- What are valid military orders?
All written or verbal orders are considered valid when issued by competent military authority. A military member in receipt of official orders is obligated by federal statute to execute them.
- Is an employer required to pay an employee who is on military leave of absence?
Federal law does not require an employer to pay an employee on military leave of absence; however, Kentucky state law and University policy provides that an employee who is called for training or active duty in the Uniformed Services of the United States must be granted up to 10 days of paid military leave annually within the federal fiscal year (October 1 - September 30).
- Does an employee have reinstatement rights following voluntary military service?
Yes. There is no differentiation between voluntary and involuntary orders under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), so long as the basic eligibility requirements are met.
- How does military service affect employee status or seniority in the workplace?
An employee must be considered not to have been absent from the workplace if the only reason for that absence was service in a uniformed service. A returning employee must be made "whole" by:
- being allowed to contribute to the University retirement plan any amount that would have been contributed had the employee not been absent.
- being reinstated with privileges and status the employee earned by length of service (for example, after five years of regular full-time employment with the University, an employee accrues more vacation per year).
- Does an employee accrue vacation or medical/sick days from the employer while on military leave of absence?
If you are in a paid leave status, you DO accrue vacation and sick leave days while you are in the paid leave status. You do NOT accrue vacation and sick leave while in an unpaid leave status. An employer is not required under USERRA to provide short-term compensation (pay, vacation, accrual, etc.) when an employee is not working at the worksite.
- Can I continue my University life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance during my active duty?
Yes and No. The basic life insurance amount ($10,000) continues while you are on military leave if you are in a paid status. You can continue the level of optional coverage (1x, 2x, 3x salary) you are currently enrolled in and pay the full premium by contacting the Employee Benefits Office.
You may also continue your AD&D coverage, but it is important to note that the AD&D plan does not provide benefits if the death or disability is a result of an act of war.
- Will Basic and Optional Life plans pay benefits in the event that the covered person expires as a result of an act of war?
- I have the Universal Life insurance product that is made available as a voluntary benefit to UK employees. Can I continue that policy while on military leave?
You may continue to carry the Universal Life plan by contacting the MPM Financial Group, the University’s voluntary benefits administrator, and making arrangements to pay for the coverage while you are away on military leave. MPM’s phone number is (859) 223-4973.
- Will the Universal Life plan pay benefits in the event that the covered person expires as a result of an act of war?
- How do I maintain my UK benefits while I am on military leave?
There are two ways you may continue coverage:
If you choose to utilize accrued vacation, your coverage will continue automatically and your premiums will be deducted from your paycheck until you have exhausted your vacation leave.
If you choose to not utilize accrued vacation leave or if you have exhausted your vacation leave at the time you go into a military leave status, you must contact the Employee Benefits Office at 112 Scovell Hall or call (859) 257-9519 and select option #1 from the menu and make arrangements to pay for your benefits while you are on military leave.
- May I drop, discontinue or suspend my benefits while I am on military leave?
Yes, under the IRS guidelines, you may drop all or part of your benefits and re-enroll for your benefits within 30 days of returning to your job at UK. If you have a spouse or dependents covered by your plan and you wish for them to remain covered under your UK health plan, you must remain on the plan and pay the premiums.
- Who do I contact to continue or discontinue my benefits?
Contact the Employee Benefits Office to continue or discontinue your benefits. You can come to the Benefits Office at 112 Scovell Hall or call (859) 257-9519 and select option #1 from the menu.
To continue your voluntary benefits (Caner/Specified Disease, Long Term Care, Short Term Disability, Universal Life Insurance) contact the MPM Financial Group, the University’s voluntary benefits administrator, and making arrangements to pay for the coverage while you are away on military leave. MPM’s phone number is (859) 223-4973.
- If I were called to active duty and was unable to come to the benefits office and make changes, what other means are available for me to make changes related to my benefits?
If you plan to continue your benefits when you go into an unpaid leave status, you can make the request and provide the billing information by phone. You must contact the Employee Benefits Office to do so by calling (859) 257-9519, and selecting option #1. If you want to make changes to your benefits such as dropping your health insurance, ONLY you or a person whom you have legally designated as having Power of Attorney for you can make those changes since a signature is required to make changes. This can be done in the Employee Benefits Office or through mail by completing the proper forms.
- Can I re-enroll for my benefits when I return from military leave?
Yes. You MUST come to the Employee Benefits Office within 30 days of returning to work at UK to re-enroll for your benefits. If you fail to re-enroll within this time period, you will not be eligible to re-enroll for benefits until the next open enrollment period.
- Upon my return to employment at UK, when will my benefits be reinstated if I should drop them as a result of my military duty?
Your benefits will be reinstated upon the date of your return provided that you re-enroll within the first 30 days of your return to employment with UK. You MUST come to the Employee Benefits Office to re-enroll.
- If I am an early retiree on the University’s health plan, how will my health or dental insurance be affected by being on active duty with the armed services?
As a retiree, your University retiree benefits will not be affected.
- Will the time I am on military leave count toward my years of service for certain benefit calculations?
Yes. Your military service time will count toward your UK service time. For example, the time you are on military leave while a UK employee will count when calculating your years of service for retirement purposes. Also, if you are not eligible to participate in certain benefits such as retirement and long term disability due to not meeting the service requirements, time spent on military leave while a UK employee will count toward these eligibility requirements.
- Will I be covered by the University’s Long Term Disability (LTD) Plan while I am away on Uniformed Services Leave?
If you are in a paid leave status, you are still covered by the University’s LTD plan;
If you are in an employer-approved unpaid leave status, such as Uniformed Services Leave, not extending beyond a period of six (6) months, you are covered by the University’s LTD plan.
NOTE: The University LTD Plan excludes disabilities arising out of war (declared or undeclared) or any act of war.
- Since Long Term Disability does not provide benefits for disabilities arising from any act of war, what coverage would I have in the event that I became totally disabled while on active duty?
The military provides you with federal disability coverage while on active duty. Depending on the disability and the circumstances surrounding the disability, you may be eligible to receive LTD benefits from the University. All disability applications are reviewed to determine if an applicant meets the criteria for receiving LTD benefits from the University. In the event that a person would be eligible for both military and University disability benefits, the University LTD Plan reserves the right to reduce the amount of University benefits by amounts paid from other governmental disability benefits.
- How do I continue my health coverage while I am on active duty?
If you choose to utilize vacation leave, your health premiums will continue to be deducted from your payroll check while you are in a paid leave status, and you will receive the health contribution from the University until the vacation leave is exhausted. You must make arrangements with the Employee Benefits Office to pay the additional premium amount not covered by the University health credit. If you have not exhausted the 10 days of paid military leave that are granted to you each Federal fiscal year (October 1 - September 30) and you choose to utilize this leave, you will receive the health contribution. You must make arrangements with the Employee Benefits Office to pay the additional premium amount not covered by the University health credit. If you are on military leave without pay, you must make payments for your health coverage. You will be required to pay the full amount of the coverage if you are on active duty for more than 30 days. YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE THE UNIVERSITY CREDIT TOWARD THE COST OF YOUR HEALTH COVERAGE IF YOUR SERVICE EXCEEDS 30 DAYS.
- What happens to my coverage when I am no longer in a paid leave status?
If you contact the Employee Benefits Office to make arrangements to continue your coverage, you will be billed for the premiums. If you do not make arrangements, your benefits will be terminated on the date your premiums fail to be deducted from your paycheck.
- Who do I contact to continue my health plan?
Contact the Employee Benefits Office to continue your benefits. You can come to the Benefits Office at 112 Scovell Hall or call (859) 257-9519 and select option #1 from the menu.
- How long may I continue to remain enrolled in the UK health plan?
You are eligible by federal law (USERRA) to remain in the UK health plan for your period of active duty up to a maximum of 18 months.
- How does being on Uniformed Services Leave affect the CATSelect plan?
In order to receive benefits from your CATSelect plan, two factors must exist:
- It must be beneficial to you to continue using the plan. (i.e. You must have made contributions that you have not yet received for medical or child care expenditures.) Once you have used the amount in the account, you are no longer eligible to participate.
- You must continue making monthly contributions to the plan, either pre-tax if you use vacation leave and receive a payroll check, or post-tax if you are in a military leave without pay status.
- Which of my benefits have “acts of war” contingencies meaning that the plan does not pay a benefit if the event is a result of an act of war?
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment
- Long Term Disability
- Short Term Disability
- If I am taking classes through the Employee Education Program (EEP), will I have to repay the tuition waiver if I am called to active duty?
No. You will not be liable for any tuition expenses if you must drop any classes taken through the EEP program.
- Can I continue my dental coverage during my military leave?
Yes. You must contact the Benefits Office to do so.
- How do I continue to contribute to my retirement plan?
As long as you remain in a paid leave status your retirement contribution will continue along with the University’s matching contribution. Once you go into an unpaid leave status, you may continue making contributions to your retirement plan on an after-tax basis.
- How can I make retirement contributions while on an unpaid leave?
While you are on an unpaid leave status you must make arrangements to mail your check (after-tax contributions) directly to your retirement carrier(s).
These after-tax contributions will not be matched by the University.
- If I do not send contributions to my retirement plan while on an unpaid leave, will I be able to make up any contributions that I missed while on leave?
Upon your return to the University as a regular full time employee you will be eligible to make up contributions to the retirement plan over a period equal to three times the period of Uniformed Services Leave, but no longer than five years. The University shall make, on behalf of the returning service member, contributions to the retirement plan that the University would have made if you had not been absent for Uniformed Services Leave. These “make-up” contributions by the University will double match, up to a maximum of ten percent (10%), your contributions. These “make-up” contributions will not include any interest for the missed investment period. The University will not match any after-tax contributions that were sent by the employee to their retirement carrier(s) during the leave without pay.
- Will the time I am on active duty count toward my years of service for the purpose of retirement calculations?
Yes. If you are a UK employee and go on active military leave, this time will count toward your years of service.