The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017 (HIRE Vets Act or the Act), requires the Secretary of Labor to establish a program, by rule, that recognizes employer efforts to recruit, employ, and retain veterans. Employer-applicants meeting criteria established in the rule will receive a “HIRE Vets Medallion Award.” As described in the Act, there are different awards for large employers (500-plus employees), medium employers (51-499 employees), and small employers (50 or fewer employees). Additionally, there are two award tiers: platinum and gold. For each award, the employer must satisfy a set of criteria. Verification of these criteria includes a self-attestation by the applicant and a check for violations of veteran-related DOL labor laws by the U.S. Department of Labor. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published on August 18, 2017. DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) thoroughly evaluated and carefully considered all comments received. The Final Rule announced by the Secretary on November 9, 2017 is available for viewing on the Federal Register website. The Final Rule became effective in January 2018 and VETS began accepting applications for this award in January 2019. Over 1,400 employers have earned a HIRE Vets Medallion Award and they are highlighted at www.hirevets.gov/awardees.
SUMMARY OF THE FINAL RULE
The HIRE Vets Medallion Program Final Rule codifies the requirements of the Act, including criteria for large employer awards, and develops criteria for granting awards to small and medium employers. It lays out the process, timelines, and procedures for employers to apply for the award, and explains how the Department will review applications, verify the information provided, and determine and notify award recipients. Applicants pay a fee to cover administrative costs. The fees will be deposited in a U.S. Treasury account from which VETS will, subject to appropriations, fund the program.
Criteria for recognition vary by level (platinum or gold) and employer size (large, medium, and small). However, the criteria for most of the awards are based upon the following measures:
1. Percentage of new hires during the previous year that are veterans;
2. Percentage of veteran employees retained for a period of at least 12 months;
3. Percentage of employees who are veterans;
4. Provision of an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring;
5. Provision of programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment;
6. Employment of a dedicated human resources professional or initiatives to support hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees;
7. Provision of compensation, to employees serving on active duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve, that is sufficient, in combination with the employee’s active duty pay, to achieve a combined level of income commensurate with the employee’s salary prior to undertaking active duty;
8. Provision of a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees’ attendance in postsecondary education during the term of their employment; and
9. Employer with an adverse labor law decision, stipulated agreement, contract debarment, or contract termination, as defined in the rule, pursuant to either of the following labor laws will not be eligible to receive an award: Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); or Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).
Most awards do not require the employer-applicant to satisfy all of the above criteria. Please see the Final Rule for additional information about what criteria apply to each award or download a table with all criteria.
Under the Act, VETS will:
1. Solicit applications no later than January 31;
2. Stop accepting applications on April 30;
3. Finish reviewing applications no later than August 31 and select the employers to receive HIRE Vets Medallion Awards no later than September 30;
4. Notify employers who will receive HIRE Vets Medallion Awards no later than October 11. VETS will also notify applicants who will not be receiving an award at that time.
5. Announce the names of award recipients at a time to coincide with Veterans Day.
The Act requires the Secretary to establish a fee sufficient to cover the costs associated with carrying out the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. Application fees are:
1. Small Employer—$90
2. Medium Employer—$190
3. Large Employer—$495
If a significant adjustment is needed to arrive at a new fee for future years of the Program, for any reason other than inflation, then a proposed rule containing the new fees will be published in the Federal Register for comment. HIRE Vets Medallion Award successful employers will receive a certificate stating the year for which it was awarded and a digital image of the medallion to use, including as part of an advertisement, solicitation, business activity, or product. The purpose of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award is to recognize employers who have employed and retained veterans, including their efforts to establish employee development programs for veterans, and employers who offer veteran-specific benefits to improve retention. Award recipients will have the opportunity to utilize the medallion in the marketing of their firm as a veteran friendly business when hiring, and in efforts to attract additional business.
The 2018 HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration allowed the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) to initially run applications, raise awareness of the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, and enabled 239 employers to garner recognition. The HIRE Vets Medallion Award was earned by 429 employers in the 2019 cycle, 675 in the 2020 cycle, and 849 in the 2021 cycle.