Philadelphia Employment Law News

Hiring Military Vets: Good or Bad for Business?

National Energy Solutions Inc., based in Levittown, is hiring; and they are hoping to hire veterans. The company was founded in 2007, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer, and makes energy saving light fixtures for commercial spaces. Right now, three of the company's twelve employees are veterans.

Why would this company make an effort to hire U.S. vets? One reason is that company co-founder Ray Sizer is himself a veteran of the Navy. He says, "It's just a good thing to do." While Sizer may be right about that, it isn't necessarily something that many employers in the Philadelphia area are making an effort to do.

According to the Inquirer, a rep for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate for veterans in Philly between ages 22 and 25 is 11 percent. In December 2011, the general unemployment rate in the Philadelphia area was just over 10 percent.

Is making the effort to hire veterans good or bad for business? Both Sizer and NESI president, Mike Antonelli, say it is a plus, especially for a small business that may not be able to afford extensive training. NESI's work requires travel, security clearance and the ability to follow a chain of command, all things the company's leaders say veterans have.

In addition, there are tax credits available to companies who hire unemployed vets.

But what else should employers know about hiring vets or active service members? The Uniformed Services Employment and Employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects active members who have to be absent from their civilian jobs and also gives protections to veterans from discrimination because of their service. Anyone who has served or is serving in the military is protected under USERRA and all employers in the public and private sectors are subject to the Act.

As spring comes closer and construction swings into gear, employers who agree with Sizer that hiring veterans is important should also consider what kind of help they can get from Helmets to Hardhats, a nationwide nonprofit based in Washington. According to the Inquirer, this program connects National Guard, Reserve and active-duty military members with construction jobs. It has placed 5,800 service people in jobs since it started tracking placements in 2007.

If you think hiring vets would be good for your business and would like more information, please see the Related Resources below.

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