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Hiring a Veteran Has Benefits

Originally published: 09.01.12 by Mike Coyne

Hiring a Veteran Has Benefits

But be aware of potential regulatory obstacles.

As the United States brings home soldiers from the Middle East, military veterans comprise a larger percentage of the labor pool. A number of government programs have been implemented to provide incentives for employers to hire veterans, and special incentives are available for employers who hire disabled veterans. Is this something you should consider?

Most articles promoting the hiring of veterans stress the fact that veterans are motivated and disciplined workers, dedicated team players, and are use to working under stress. While this all might be true, the hiring of veterans — particularly disabled veterans — offers some less obvious benefits. It has been reported that businesses that hire veterans (particularly disabled veterans) are more favorably viewed by employees.

Additionally, there can be an advantage with consumers. The United States is home to 54 million people with disabilities, a group that is larger than any ethnic minority. Marketing studies indicate that consumers, with and without disabilities, favor businesses that employ disabled workers.

Consider Financial Incentives

There also is a tax benefit to hiring veterans. The VOW To Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provided expanded work-opportunity tax credits to employers that hire veterans. A tax credit of up to $2,400 (40% of the first

$6,000 of first-year wages) is available for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed for at least four weeks. A tax credit of up to $5,600 (40% of the first $14,000 of first-year wages) is available for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed for at least six months.

The work-opportunity tax credit for hiring a disabled veteran is much greater. The tax credit is as much is $4,800 (40% of the first $12,000 of first-year wages) for hiring a veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who has been unemployed for less than six months. The credit is up to $9,600 (40% of the first $24,000 of first-year wages) for hiring a veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who has been unemployed for at least six months.

In addition to the tax credit, financial incentives are provided through the Dept. of Veteran Affairs' Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program. This program, known as "VR and E,” is designed to be a national employment resource for employers. Under its "On-The-Job Training Program," an employer can hire a veteran at an apprentice wage, and the government will supplement the salary up to the journeyman wage (subject to certain limits) while the veteran is being trained. Over time, the subsidy is reduced until the employer is paying the full journeyman wage. VR and E also will pay for any necessary tools that the employee is required to own.

Additionally, the Dept. of Veteran Affairs administers a “Special Employer Incentive Program” for veterans facing extraordinary obstacles to employment. The program can reimburse employers up to 50% of the veteran's salary for the first six months of employment.

Be Aware of Obstacles

Unfortunately, federal employment laws create potential obstacles for employers. For example, an employer generally is prohibited from asking a job candidate whether the candidate has a disability. The employer also is prohibited from asking questions about an obvious disability. In the case of veterans, however, an employer may ask a candidate if he is a "disabled veteran," but only for affirmative-action purposes. The employer must clearly inform candidates that the information is being requested as part of an affirmative-action program; that the information will be kept confidential; that the candidate can choose not to provide the information; and the failure to provide information will not result in adverse treatment.

Additionally, as with the employment of any other person with a disability, an employer that hires a disabled veteran may be required under the Americans With Disabilities Act to provide a reasonable accommodation to allow the employee to perform the duties of the position for which he is hired.

Ample Resources Available

The good news is that if an employer wants to explore hiring a veteran or disabled veteran, there are a number of free resources readily available. O*NET Online is a site maintained by the Dept. of Labor with searchable databases of military job codes and civilian equivalents to help employers translate resumes from "militarese” to civilian-speak. A nonprofit organization, Hire Heroes USA, is an employment-assistance program that matches motivated veterans with potential employers. The Wounded Warrior Project represents veterans with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. Its website allows employers to post jobs and review resumes of disabled veterans from across the nation. Finally, the Department of Veteran Affairs has a number of regional offices throughout the country that administer the VR and E Program and other programs intended to help veterans find employment.

Michael P. Coyne is a founding partner of the law firm Waldheger Coyne, located in Cleveland, OH. For more information of the firm, visit: www.healthlaw.com or call 440.835.0600.

Articles by Mike Coyne

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