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Workplace flexibility is an important business strategy, but never more important than when it comes to those in the military community—both veterans and military spouses—according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The organization developed the “When Work Works Toolkit” to provide tools to build support for workplace flexibility. You can download it here.

Workplace flexibility covers:

  • Choices in managing time: Control over one’s schedule and agreeing that the schedule or shift meets their needs.
  • Flex time and flex place: Traditional flexibility, daily flexibility (short-notice schedule changes), compressed workweeks and working at home.
  • Reduced time: Full-timers who could arrange to work part time in their current position and part-timers who could arrange to work full time in their current position, as well as part-year work.
  • Time off: Lack of difficulty in taking time for personal or family matters, paid days off for personal illness, paid days off to care for sick children, time off for elder care without fear of losing one’s job, paid vacation time, paid holidays, time off for volunteering without the loss of pay, and caregiving leaves for birth, adoption and seriously ill family members.
  • Flex careers: Enabling employees to dial up or dial down their careers by taking extended time off for caregiving or sabbaticals. Such flexibility also lets employees phase into retirement.

Also, be aware of legal provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that pertain to the military. In January 2008 and 2010 the FMLA was amended to permit:

  • Qualifying Exigency Leave. Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter or parent of a military member may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period to address the most common issues that arise when a veteran is deployed to a foreign country, such as attending military-sponsored functions, making appropriate financial and legal arrangements, and arranging for alternative child care. This provision applies to the families of members of both the active duty and Reserve components of the armed forces.
  • Military Caregiver Leave. Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered veteran may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for the veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy; is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty. This provision applies to the families of members of both the active duty and Reserve components.

Accommodating Veterans With Disabilities

ADDITIONAL FLEXIBILITY ISSUES

When spouses have to move, help them find a position in another location within the company or offer them continued contact if they can’t stay with the company. Making an effort on their behalf will be appreciated—and recognized by them.

Remember that it’s the law that a veteran on drill or deployment always must be guaranteed to have their job upon return. For more about the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), read the helpful explanations provided by the Department of Labor.

When veterans deploy, they will often see that their military pay is less than their civilian pay, which is suspended. Consider a gesture of good will known as “gap pay,” in which a company will make up the difference between what they make in the military and what they would have made had they not been deployed. If you do this, though, make sure not to withhold social security and Medicare contributions.