Massachusetts employers are reminded that, per legislation signed by Governor Charlie Baker in July 2016, qualifying veterans scheduled to work on Veterans Day who wish to participate in Veterans Day activities in their communities may be entitled to paid leave from their employers to do so. The legislation, officially titled An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment or the HOME Act, amends a prior law that only required employers to grant veterans unpaid leave to participate in Veterans Day and Memorial Day activities provided they gave their employers “reasonable notice.”
The amendment requires that employers with 50 or more employees afford time off with pay for participation in Veterans Day (but not Memorial Day) activities. The law applies to any person with an honorable discharge who served in any branch of the U.S. military and to some individuals who served full time in the National Guard
Notably, the HOME Act also made veteran status a protected classification under state discrimination laws. Previously, only active military servicepeople were considered protected. State law now prohibits discrimination in employment and in housing on the basis of a qualified veteran’s prior military service.
As Veterans Day approaches on November 11, 2017, Massachusetts employers, particularly those with 50 or more employees, may want to review with managers of veterans the requirements of the Home Act in terms of time off to participate in Veterans Day activities, and ensure their payroll and employment practices comply with the law’s requirements.