Resources are available for businesses that need help with staffing issues that arise from the deployment of military reservists.

The 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, protects reservists who leave their jobs to take on active duty.

Contact informationU.S. Small Business Administration in Portland

(503) 326-2682 or on the Web at www.sba.gov/or

The Oregon Employment Department in Astoria

325-4821 or on the Web at www.workinginoregon.org and www.qualityinfo.org The federal law ensures that "the employee will go back to the job in the same status as if he never left," said retired Sgt. Maj. Bill Van Natta, who represents several Oregon military units - including the 1249th Engineer Battalion - in the Employer Support to Guard and Reserve program. The program helps reservists and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the act.

While the reservist is gone, a small business can suffer from lost technical expertise the employee provided. Also, the costs of hiring and training a temporary replacement can be substantial.

"Clearly, when you're a one- or two- or three-person shop and you pull one of the key people out that's going to have an impact," said Philip E. Gentry, director of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Portland district. The bad economy exacerbates the problem, he added.

"What we can offer them in some instances, is disaster assistance loans under the economic injury program, where we can loan up to $1.5 million at 4 percent for people who have had reservists or guardsmen called up," Gentry said. The USSBA also provides management and technical assistance.

The Oregon Employment Department has resources for businesses looking for temporary replacements.

"We work with temporary staffing agencies and with businesses and job seekers all over the state," said Tom Fuller, the department's communications manager.

Fuller said Employer Relations Representatives can contact individual businesses and find out what their workforce needs are. The department has large databases of job seekers and labor market information.

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