Upcoming Changes to the Law on Leave for Veterans

By Michael C. Birch   October 24, 2018

On August 28, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Relative to Veterans Benefits, Rights, Appreciation, Validation and Enforcement (the “BRAVE Act”). The BRAVE Act goes into effect on November 7, 2018. Among other things, the law changes the requirements for employers to grant leave to veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

THE OLD LAW

The old law, which only went into effect in 2016, required employers to grant veterans time off on Veterans Day and Memorial Day to participate in an exercise, parade, or service in their community. The law also required employers with 50 or more employees to pay veterans for leave taken on Veterans Day.

NEW CHANGES TO THE LAW

Effective November 7, the law will change as follows:

Veterans Day: Employers must now grant leave to veterans, if requested, to observe Veterans Day, regardless of whether they participate in a Veterans Day celebration.

Memorial Day: The law has not changed with respect to Memorial Day. Employers must still grant leave to veterans, if requested, for Memorial Day to participate in an exercise, parade, or service in their community.

No Paid Leave: Employers, regardless of their size, are not required to pay for leave for Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Thus, employers with 50 or more employees will no longer be required to pay veterans for leave on Veterans Day. Of course, employers can choose to pay for leave on Veterans Day or Memorial Day.

Exception: Employees are not required to grant leave for Veterans Day or Memorial Day for employees who “are essential and critical to the public health or safety and determined to be essential to the safety and security of such an employee’s employer or the property of the employer.”

WHAT IT MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS

The BRAVE Act will take effect in time for Veterans Day, which will be observed on November 12, 2018. Employers will be required to grant leave to veterans on Veterans Day this year, if requested, but it need not be paid under the law.

Employers should revise their personnel policies addressing leave for Veterans Day and Memorial Day and train managers how to handle leave requests for these holidays.

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