COVID Labor Shortages: Here Comes the Cavalry!

Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley & Lardner LLPLike most businesses, you probably are in dire need of qualified, motivated employees.  One often overlooked source is transitioning service members and veterans.  These men and women are truly special because they understand commitment, teamwork, and dedication, they come from all walks of life, and they are a diverse workforce pool, including with respect to race, sexual orientation, and sex to name just a few categories.  Veterans tend to have high retention rates (e.g. lower turnover) and bring considerable leadership attributes to the workforce.

In addition to the non-monetary advantages, there are also substantial monetary benefits associated with hiring transitioning military and veterans.  Here are summaries of a few programs that may be of interest:

1.  DoD SkillBridge Program. The U.S. Department of Defense runs an internship program that allows current military members of any rank who are in their final 180 days of military service to work for a civilian company.  The U.S. DoD pays the service member’s salary and benefits while the service member participates in SkillBridge.  You pay nothing!  The only requirements are that the “internship” must include an interview and offer a high probability of continued employment.  Click here for more info.

2.  Military Recruiters.  To facilitate an employer’s ability to attract the types of candidates who might be right for your business, nonprofit organizations work with the Department of Labor to help businesses attract veterans.  For instance, the organization HireMilitary helps attract specialized types of employees (e.g., cyber-security, IT).  Another non-profit, Hiring Our Heroes, focuses mostly on placing entry-level candidates.

3.  Apprenticeship Program.  Another potential opportunity for employers is to register and become approved for an Apprenticeship Program recognized by VA and the Department of Labor.  Once approved, an employee can utilize his or her G.I. Bill benefits.  This program results in a nationally recognized credential and may be easier for the company to attract others interested in skilled trades.

4.  Special Employer Incentive Program (SEI).  Run by the Department of Labor and VA, this program provides employers who hire veterans with a service–connected disability who are approved for vocational rehabilitation and employment services to receive reimbursement of up to 50% of the veteran's salary for 6 months to offset training costs.  See here for more.

5.  Work Opportunity Tax Credit.  The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers who hire veterans and individuals from other eligible target groups with significant barriers to employment.  Veterans who are qualified include the following:

  • Veterans who have a member of their family receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (food stamps).  That family member must be on the program for at least three months during the veteran’s first year of employment.
  • Veterans who were unemployed for at least four weeks but fewer than six months in the one-year period prior to their hiring date.
  • Veterans who were unemployed for at least six months in the one-year period prior to their hiring date.
  • A disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability that is hired not more than one year after being discharged or released from active duty.
  • A disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a serviced-connected disability that is unemployed for at least six months in the one-year period before their hiring date.
  • Veterans who fall into multiple categories might qualify employers for more tax breaks.

WOTC can reduce an employer's federal income tax liability by as much as $9,600 per veteran hired.  This is the maximum tax credit if the veteran has services-connected disabilities and is hired within a year of their discharge from the military.  A similar credit is available for employers that hire a disabled veteran who has received unemployment compensation for longer than six months. There is no limit on how many eligible employees a firm can hire and receive credit.  For instance, the employer can hire ten veterans with service-related disabilities who’ve been unemployed at least six months and receive credits of nearly $100,000.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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