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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A spattering of credit unions and credit union vendors are going beyond what is legally required to ease the financial burdens on their National Guardsmen and reservist employees who stand ready to go on active duty. As the number of National Guardsmen and reservists called to active duty at press time moves up to 55,326, many employers are showing their support by enhancing their military leave policies. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act employers are required to hold a position for military personnel up to five years, without loss of seniority, vacation or other benefits – including pay raises – and must offer the option to buy health insurance for up to 18 months. USERRA however does not protect wages, leaving many reservists relying solely on their military salary, which is often considerably less than their civilian salary. Wanting to do the right thing, Fiserv has temporarily changed its military leave policy to make sure U.S. employees called into active duty continue to receive their full pay and dependent health-care benefits while away from their Fiserv jobs. Under the new plan, retroactive to Sept. 12, 2001, Fiserv will make up the difference between the activated employee’s base pay and the employee’s military duty pay for up to six months. In addition, employees may continue dependent health care benefits at the regular employee contribution rates for up to six months. In addition, Fiserv will make every effort to ensure an employee returns to the same or similar job at the same pay level when returning to work, regardless of when he or she returns. “Anyone who is called into active duty during this very trying time in our history is helping to defend America’s freedoms,” Fiserv President/CEO Les Muma said. “This is our way of saying thank you.” Having a few employees called to active duty, Dade County Federal Credit Union President/CEO George G. Joseph has made a similar adjustment to his military leave policy and employees will be paid their regular salary while away. “We want to do as much as we can for them,” said Joseph. In Ohio, Rep. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) amended Senate Bill 164, to make up the difference in salary and health benefits lost by as many as 1,000 state employees called to serve in the Ohio National Guard or Reserves. According to Hughes, the state offered the same compensation to Guard members and reservists during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The measure passed 94-0. Recently, EDS was awarded the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award, which is the highest military honor given to civilian companies, for its exceptional extended support for Reserve Component employees and the entire Armed Forces of the United States. “EDS is extremely proud of our colleagues in uniform and very honored to receive this award,” said EDS Chairman/CEO Dick Brown. “We are dedicated to doing whatever we can to support our reservists, National Guard members and Operation Enduring Freedom.” Brown also participated in a special White House ceremony where President George W. Bush signed a proclamation announcing November 12 – 18 as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week 2001. EDS’ standing policy of making up the difference between EDS salary and military pay for those colleagues called to duty was cited in the nomination. There are an estimated 1.3 million reservists who may be called if the war on terrorism escalates. [email protected]

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