- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

RICHMOND (AP) Virginia officials said this week they will take care of state employees called to military service in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
The Virginia Department of Human Resource Management is making sure that these workers know they still will have jobs when they return home and that they understand how their wages and benefits can be affected.
Fewer than 1,000 classified employees are in the military Reserve or National Guard, but officials don't know how many could be called to active duty.
"It's such a fluid thing; it is hard to get accurate data as to how many people will be [affected]," said Sara Redding Wilson, director of the Department of Human Resource Management.
About 300 were activated by the Defense Department during the Gulf war in 1991.
Many of the workers who would get orders from the Pentagon are in public safety agencies, such as the Department of State Police and the Department of Corrections, Ms. Wilson said.
At the state police, 87 employees 81 officers and six administrative workers are in the Reserve or the National Guard. So far, 10 have been ordered to military service, Deputy Superintendent Don Martin said.
Some personnel already have returned to their state jobs. The longest anyone is expected to be out, so far, is until Nov. 1, Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin said the state police don't expect military mobilizations to strain staff and resources even though the agency's ranks are shrinking.
Employment law provides that workers called to military duty are guaranteed jobs when they muster out. That doesn't mean employees get back the same jobs; instead, they are assured what the law describes as comparable positions.
Because the workers move to the federal payroll when activated by the military, they give up their state wages. However, to minimize the financial hit, the state will allow activated employees to draw on vacation, holiday, compensatory and leave time for which they still are entitled to be paid.
As for health and dental insurance benefits, state employees on military duty switch to federal coverage, though they can continue with the state plan for up to 18 months. Workers' individual coverage is picked up by the employer be it the state or federal government with the employee still paying for family members.
"We're really trying to minimize the fiscal impact," Ms. Wilson said, "We're really trying to take care of their families at home."
Some private companies also are taking steps to protect their employees.
Dominion, for instance, has changed its policy to make up for the difference in pay for its employees who are called to active duty. Before, the energy company made up the difference for only two weeks.
Philip Morris USA said it will make up the difference in base pay for full-time employees for up to a year.

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