On August 18, 2017, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), an agency of the Department of Labor, released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to propose regulations implementing the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing (HIRE) American Military Veterans Act of 2017 – a federal contractor award and recognition program. The NPRM proposes two HIRE Medallion awards – Gold and Platinum. To apply, employers would voluntarily submit the application materials to the VETS office. VETS would then review and process applications and award the HIRE Vets Medallion Award to those employers who meet the criteria established in the regulations and are deemed deserving of the award.
According to the proposed rule, although the criteria differ slightly based on the size of the organization, the following criteria generally will apply to large employers seeking a gold award -
- Hiring Criterion – at least 7% veteran hires into an organization during the prior calendar year.
- Retention Criterion – at least 75% retention of veterans hired during the year prior to the previous 12 month period.
- Employee Veteran Organization or Resource Group Criterion –must have an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring.
- Leadership Program Criterion –must have programs to enhance the leadership skills of their veteran employees.
- Human Resources Criteria –must have human resources support for veterans.
- Pay Differential Criterion –must provide active duty employees with a pay differential to achieve a combined salary that is equal to the salary they received prior to active duty.
- Tuition Assistance Program Criterion –must have a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees’ interest in pursuing postsecondary education.
Additionally, the proposed rule outlines circumstances that would disqualify an employer from the award program. The rule states – “VETS proposes to disqualify from consideration those employers that have incurred violations under labor laws protecting veterans as administered by, or in conjunction with, VETS and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)”. Other disqualifying criteria includes employers under debarment and employers who have had their contracts terminated within a specified period prior to the issuance of an award.
At the 2017 National Industry Liaison Conference, OFCCP mentioned planning for a similar award and recognition program for federal contractors. Stay tuned for developments on these proposed employer awards programs.
By Vinaya Sakpal, Associate Consultant at DCI Consulting