Employment of veterans has significantly improved over the past year, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS’s report shows that from February 2011 to February 2012, the unemployment rate for veterans 18 and older decreased from 9.2% to 7.0% – lower than the unemployment rate for nonveterans.
These strong statistics coincide with new government efforts to boost job prospects for returning members of the armed forces. On April 26, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published proposed regulations that would impose additional affirmative action obligations on federal government contractors under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). Once finalized, the regulations would require contractors, among other things, to (1) take certain mandatory actions in recruitment, recordkeeping and dissemination of affirmative action policies relating to protecting veterans; (2) establish annual hiring benchmarks to track the effectiveness of their affirmative action programs; (3) request disclosure information from applicants; and (4) collect data concerning job referrals.
In addition, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new regulations this past February implementing amendments to the military leave provisions of the FMLA. These proposed regulations, once finalized, would (1) extend the availability of FMLA leave to family members of members of the Regular Armed Forces for qualifying exigencies arising out of the servicemember’s deployment; (2) extend FMLA military caregiver leave to family members of certain veterans with serious injuries or illnesses; and (3) allow eligible employees to take 15 days off when a service member comes home for rest and recuperation rather than the five days currently allowed.