As the nation prepares to honor the service of men and women in armed forces, Massachusetts employers should be aware of some new obligations.
In July 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the HOME Act into law. The HOME Act is an omnibus bill that, in part, amends M.G.L. 149, Section 52A1/2 . Previously, employers were required to provide any veteran with unpaid leave who desires to participate in Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day exercises, parades or services.
The HOME Act amends that law to provide that employers with 50 or more employees must provide paid leave. There are some limits to the law. Veterans are permitted to participate in services in their community of residence. This means employers would not have to grant multiple leave days for veterans to travel outside of their community of residence. Employers also may deny leave where the employee’s services are essential to public health and safety and the employee is an essential employee to the employer.
The HOME Act also amends the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act to provide that “veteran status” is a protected class. As Veterans Day approaches, employers should remind supervisors and HR personnel that leave requests may need to be granted.