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Faipule ask for clarification on amendment to legislation defining parameters of military leave

Pulou- Alaimalo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa's Human Resource Director Lynn Pulou-Alaimalo, along with the Assistant Attorney General Lynne Blankenbeker, were called before the House last week Thursday to explain the language of an amendment to the legislation concerning military leave in American Samoa.

The bill which amends section 7.0208; creating a section 7.1206 in chapter 12 of title 7 A.S.C.A is to establish and define military leave for all members of a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States, the U.S. Public Health Service, or the National Guard and defines time periods of reemployment after completion of service.

AAG Blankenbeker explained the bill serves to define and outline the parameters of military leave for all government and private employers and their employees.

The faipule were asking for clarification on the bill as several members were confused, including the House Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui Jr.

The Vice Speaker explained that he was confused about the bill, as there already is an existing government law governing returning (military) employees.

Fetui, said, Tthis looks like you are broadening it. You used to go for whatever length? And it appears to now have a limitation to 31 days, then [the service member] goes back to work.

AAG Blankenbeker told the House all reservists are required to serve a minimum of 12 days [yearly], and that's mandatory.

Manu'a’s newly elected faipule Faauifono Vaitautolu told the AAG and HR Director, being a retiree for 26 years, like some of the faipule in the House, she doesn't understand the 120-day leave, "and I don't understand what the bill wants, as if you work for the government you have to report back to work?"

Faipule Amituanai Vailoata asked about the annual leave, if it can be used when a reservist that works for the government is called to go?

"Yes," said Pulou- Alaimalo. 

"When that runs out, can they use the military leave?" asked Amituana'i.

Pulou- Alaimalo said No, the language of the bill reforms the policy and is a simplification of the language, regarding leave, as there is also concern from the Senators, on existing cases where a government employee is called to go and when they return they've been replaced and their job is no longer waiting for them.

Amituana'i also asked if the directors have the power to forcefully remove a reservist from his or her government job while on military duty?

"There is no power,” said Pulou- Alaimalo.

The amended legislation reads:

Restoration of preference eligibles previously in career service.

 (a) An individual employed in the career service, who is ordered to active or reserve duty in the armed forces of the United States, is entitled within 120 day after his release from duty under honorable conditions, to be restored to the position in the career service held by him when ordered to duty: within the following time restrictions:

1. Leaves of less than 31 days, the individual must return to work on the first workday after release from military service after an 8 hour period.

2. Leaves of more than 31 days but less than 180 days, the individual must report back or reapply within 14 days after completion of service.

3. Leaves of more than 180 days. the individual must report back or reapply within 90 days after the completion of service."

Sec 2. reads:

 (a) "Military Leave" is an excused leave of absence granted to eligible employees on orders to perform service in the uniformed services.

 (b) Employees are to provide their employers with advance notice of military service, with some exceptions:

            1. Notice may be either written or oral. It may be provided by the employee or by an appropriate officer of the branch of the military in which the employee will be serving.

2. Military necessity prevents the giving of notice.

3. The giving of notice is otherwise impossible or unreasonable.

 (c) A full-time employee who serves under an appointment without time limitation and who is a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States, the U.S. Public Health Service, or the National Guard, including duty performed on a voluntary or involuntary basis, is entitled to a paid military leave of absence for annual military duty or training for not more than 30 workdays in any calendar year.

(d) Paid military leave is limited to a maximum of 30 workdays during each year, regardless of number of training periods in a year and whether taken intermittently, a day at a time, or all at 1 time and it will not roll over to the next year if unused.

(e) Absence which is not chargeable to military leave can be charged to annual leave. Therefore, employees who are called to duty for a period longer than the 30 day period chargeable to military leave can use annual leave for the additional absence.

(F) Employees on military leave are entitled to accrue normal employee benefits such as annual leave.

 (g) Contract Employees. Contract employees who are members of the Armed Forces reserve components shall be granted military leave in accordance with the provisions of this section.