Policy holds jobs for Reservists

War is upon us. For most of us it is just television images of faraway deserts and cities, exploding bombs, and planes and tanks traversing the Iraqi terrain. The war for us will never be more than what is covered in the media and increased gas prices.

But for some war will be a way of life for the next several months. Men and women across the nation have been, and will be, called to service through the Reserves.

Registrar Coordinator Lee Amundsen said 30 Northern Kentucky University students have been called to service since the beginning of last fall’s semester. Twenty-one of those were called up just this semester, particularly in January and February. “I anticipate a few more,” she said.

Reservists called to service leave behind family members, spouses, children, jobs, and a comfortable lifestyle. But what happens when the reservist is also a student?

NKU has a policy to protect students, faculty and staff who are called to service mid-semester. The policy seeks to ensure that students who take a military leave from school, and professors and staff who take leave from work, are not penalized.

Amundsen said, under the policy, a student called to service in the first 12 weeks of the semester will receive a full refund and a grade of ‘W’ for all classes. During week 13 and 14, the student has the option to either receive a full refund and the ‘W’, or accept the current grade in all classes. During weeks 15 and 16, the student will receive the current grade in each class. This policy can also be found on page 22 of the 2002-2003 catalog.

“Students need to get a copy of their orders to the registrar in order to get a full refund,” Amundsen said. The policy applies to all students, whether they are reservists or drafted into service.

Director of Human Resources Martha Malloy said that only one professor has been called into service this semester. “I certainly expected to have more,” she said

According to the faculty and staff handbooks “Staff members…who are required to perform emergency duty will be granted leave for the duration of such duty. If the leave is for one month or less, the university will pay the employee the difference between his military pay and his university pay. If the leave is for longer than one month, the leave…will be without pay.”

“The big issue, if you’re gone for a war effort, is reinstatement.” Malloy said. “[Faculty or staff] will be reinstated in the same job with any pay increase or promotions that would have come if they hadn’t been called to duty.”

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act requires employers to abide by certain guidelines for employees who are called to service. According to Malloy if the employee’s leave is for less than 180 days, the reservist cannot be fired without cause for 180 days after returning to work. If the leave is for more than 180 days, the employee cannot be fired without cause for one year after returning.

“Our policy is in line with those laws,” Malloy said. She also said departments have two options when a member is called to service. They may either make do without the employee or hire a temporary replacement.