In July 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed the BRAVE Act, a wide-ranging piece of legislation including a number of provisions aimed at increasing the support and services available to veterans and their families. Among other things, the act provides increased tax relief and access to educational programs and other resources to veterans. The BRAVE Act also updates state law with regard to the time off provided to veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Under the new law, veterans are entitled to time off “to observe Veterans Day.” There is no specific limitation on the number of hours, or particular activities that qualify for time off. Under the prior law, veterans were only entitled to take off the time necessary to participate in a Veterans Day “exercise, parade or service” in the veteran’s community of residence. The change in the law appears to give veterans the right to take the entire day off, and to “observe” the holiday in any way they see fit.
The BRAVE Act does not change the law with regard to time off for veterans in connection with Memorial Day. Veterans are still only entitled to take the time necessary to participate in a Memorial Day exercise, parade or service in their community of residence.
While the prior law required employers with at least 50 employees to pay veterans for time off to participate in a parade, the new law leaves the decision to pay veterans for the time off on Veterans Day or Memorial Day to the discretion of the employer.
Finally, employees whose services are essential and critical to the public health or safety, or essential to the safety and security of the veteran’s employer or the employer’s property, are not eligible for the time off provided by the statute.
The McLane Middleton Employment Law Practice Group extends its sincere gratitude to all of our nation’s veterans. Thank you for your service!