In 2018, the Massachusetts legislature enacted a broad sweeping statute entitled “An Act Relative to Veterans’ Benefits, Rights, Appreciation, Validation and Enforcement,” also known as the BRAVE Act. The BRAVE Act addressed a number of issues affecting veterans and military families, including but not limited to honoring our veterans and military service men and women and their families, including Gold Star Wives, Mothers and Families, and increasing benefits available to active duty service members who are employed by public sector employers who have locally accepted the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 33, Section 59.
With Veterans Day fast approaching (next Monday, November 11, 2019), all Massachusetts employers should remember that the BRAVE Act expanded the rights of employees who are veterans or who are members of any of the departments of war veterans listed in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 8, Section 17 such that they are now entitled to take leave from work for the purposes of observing Veterans Day, regardless of whether or not they participate in any Veterans Day exercise, parade, or service. Thus, veterans and members of a department of war veterans are entitled to take the entire day off from work to observe the Veterans Day holiday in any manner they wish. Such leave for Veterans Day may be with or without pay at the employer’s discretion.
Please note that the BRAVE Act distinguishes the rights to time off for veterans and members of a department of war veterans on Veterans Day in comparison to Memorial Day. As a result, although veterans and members of a department of war veterans may observe Veterans Day in any manner they see fit, on Memorial Day they are only entitled to a leave of absence of sufficient time “to participate in a Memorial Day exercise, parade or service” in the community in which they reside. The leave of absence on Memorial Day may be with or without pay at the employer’s discretion.
If you have not already done so, now is a good time to review your policies to ensure that they are in compliance with all of the provisions of the BRAVE Act, including those governing leaves of absence on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Please contact any of our Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits attorneys if you have any questions about the BRAVE Act, the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, or any other labor, employment or employee benefits issue.