206 – Military Leave and Military Leave of Absence
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) acknowledges that many of its employees are associated with federal and state military organizations, either in an active or a reserve capacity. The HCSO further recognizes the obligations owed by an employee to his or her military unit may require the employee to be absent from work.
A. For purposes of this section, any such absence will be referred to as a temporary military leave or a military leave of absence.
B. The Harris County personnel regulations define county policy with respect to military leave, and employees are directed to the regulations for additional details concerning such policy. Additionally, employees required to take military leave are guaranteed certain rights and benefits under both federal and state law and are directed to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), Title 38 United States Code (USC) Chapter 43, and Chapter 431 of the Texas Government Code for details concerning such rights and benefits.
A. Personnel Authorized to Use Military Leave:
Only employees who are current or active members of the following armed forces and uniformed services are eligible under this section:
Active and Reserve United States Uniformed Services:
1. U.S. Army
2. U.S. Navy
3. U.S. Marine Corps
4. U.S. Air Force
5. U.S. Coast Guard
6. U.S. Space Force
7. U.S. Public Health Service
8. State Military Forces
9. Texas Army National Guard
10. Texas Air National Guard
11. Texas State Guard
B. Approval of Military Leave Requests:
1. In accordance with federal and state law, an employee who is required to perform military training or to serve in an active duty capacity must be allowed time off from employment. The HCSO shall grant all valid requests for temporary military leave or military leave of absence. Likewise, all absences directly attributable to fulfillment of military service obligations will be approved by the HCSO, subject to final approval by the Harris County Auditor.
2. An eligible employee shall, at the earliest possible time, give advance notice to his or her supervisor in writing of the dates of his or her anticipated absence for military service.
3. Whenever possible, an employee should provide his or her supervisor with the telephone number of the military unit to which he or she is assigned in order to facilitate an exchange of information about the anticipated length of the employee’s absence and to coordinate the employee’s return to duty with the HCSO.
4. An employee preparing for military leave will ensure all county-owned equipment and identification are returned to the HCSO for safekeeping.
5. An exit interview will be arranged with the HCSO Military Liaison Office to assist the employee and his or her family members with the deployment process. It will provide for:
a. Military unit and contact information,
b. Family assistance and emergency contact information, and
c. Re-integration resources and instruction.
6. Although an eligible employee shall provide notice of his or her anticipated absence for military service, in the event of an urgent military necessity for purposes of national security, the requirement to give such advance notice may be waived by the HCSO due to insufficient time for providing advance notice to the employee’s supervisor prior to beginning a temporary military leave or military leave of absence. Nonetheless, the employee shall notify his or her supervisor at the earliest opportunity and, upon return to duty with the HCSO, provide his or her supervisor with some form of official documentation from the employee’s military unit detailing or explaining the basis for the absence.
A. In accordance with Harris County personnel regulations, when requesting temporary military leave or military leave of absence, an eligible employee has the option of utilizing military leave or accrued compensatory and vacation time. A member of the state military forces or a reserve unit of the armed forces is entitled to not more than 15 days in a federal fiscal year of paid leave for purposes of military service and may not be subjected during such leave to loss of time, efficiency rating, or vacation.
B. Whenever possible, an eligible employee who is required to perform military service on a day or consecutive days that are not the employee’s regular days off will be allowed equivalent time off during the pay period in which the military service is required to be performed.
For purposes of determining the length of an employee’s absence for temporary military leave or military leave of absence, the HCSO will consider travel time as military service if the employee is required to leave directly from his or her work assignment.
C. An eligible employee who wishes to return to duty shall, upon completion of the military service, notify Human Resources of his or her intent to return to duty with the HCSO.
In accordance with the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), an eligible employee shall give such notice of his or her intent to return to duty.
1. For an absence of five years or less, the employee will submit an application for reemployment to Human Resources within 90 days of the completion of the military service.
2. In the event recovery for service-connected injuries is required beyond the 90-day post period, employees may request an extended leave of absence.
D. If the employee has been absent from a position of civilian employment by reason of service in the uniformed services, he or she will be eligible for reemployment under USERRA by meeting the following criteria:
1. The employer had advance notice of the employee’s military obligation;
2. The employee has been away from this employer five years or less due to military obligations (excluding the following exemptions);
a. Service that is required beyond five years to complete an initial period of obligated service.
b. If the employee was unable to obtain orders releasing him or her from service in the uniformed services before the expiration of the five-year period, and the inability was not the employee’s fault.
c. Service performed to fulfill periodic Guard and Reserve training requirements and includes service performed to fulfill additional training requirements determined and certified by a proper military authority as necessary for the employee’s professional development or to complete skill training or retraining. This includes weekend drills and annual training.
d. Service performed in a uniformed service if he or she was ordered to or retained on active duty under the following circumstances:
i. Involuntary active duty of a military retiree,
ii. Involuntary active duty in wartime,
iii. Retention on active duty while in captive status,
iv. Involuntary active duty for an operational mission,
v. Involuntary retention on active duty of a critical person during time of crisis or other specific conditions, or
vi. Involuntary active duty by the Coast Guard Reserve for natural or man-made disasters.
e. Service performed in a uniformed service if the employee was ordered to or retained on active duty (other than for training) under any provision of law because of a war or national emergency declared by the President or the Congress as determined by the Secretary.
3. The employee returns to work in a timely manner as defined under USERRA; and
4. The employee has not been separated from uniformed services with a disqualifying discharge or under other than honorable conditions.
E. A reentry interview shall be arranged with the HCSO Military Liaison Office personnel. The interview will include:
1. Policy and operational changes,
2. Promotional opportunities, and
3. Mandated fitness for duty evaluation.
a. Any employee seeking to return to active duty after an extended absence shall be required to provide documentation that he or she is physically and mentally capable to discharge the duties of the position to which he or she is returning (reference HCSO Department Policy #215 – Return to Duty After Extended Absence).
b. Documentation is required regardless of the reasons for the leave. Documentation must be signed by a physician.
F. Upon return from deployment, the employee will be required to complete mandated initial and refresher training. Training may include:
1. Modified field training program,
2. Weapons qualification,
3. Annual TCOLE training requirements, and
4. Annual HCSO training requirements.
G. Employees taking a military leave of absence are cautioned that there is no guarantee of reemployment upon completion of military service. Reemployment is fully contingent upon the availability of a position and the returning employee’s ability to demonstrate job proficiency or that he or she is otherwise qualified for reemployment. Nevertheless, the HCSO is committed to making a good faith effort to returning an eligible and qualified employee to duty as soon as possible, and the HCSO shall not discriminate against any employee as a consequence of the employee’s having performed military service.
If, during deployment, an employee elects a full-time military career path, the employee shall, in writing, notify the HCSO Military Liaison Office and Human Resources of his or her voluntary resignation from the HCSO.