By PETER HUSSMANN
It will be interesting to see how employers across Iowa handle a new law that requires them to provide any honorably discharged service member Veterans Day off on Nov. 11.
The issues has irked veterans for years. Recognized as a federal holiday, most public employees receive the day off with pay. Those in the private sector, and some public agency groups, do not.
But in April, Gov. Chet Culver changed that after he signed legislation that requires employers to give Veterans Day off to any eligible veteran in Iowa who requests it.
The legislation requires that an employee must provide at least one month advance written notice of their intention to take the time off. The law says veterans also must provide the employer with a federal certificate of discharge.
Employers, however, are given a lot of leeway in how to handle the requests. First, employers have the discretion of providing paid or unpaid time off. In addition, should providing the time off impact public health or safety or would cause the employer to experience "significant economic or operational disruption," the employer can deny the Veterans Day time off request. (The law doesn't define what that exactly means.)
Further, should an employer find that it cannot provide time off for all the employees who request it, the employer is required to deny time off to the minimum number of employees needed by the employer to protect the public health and safety or to maintain minimum operations. (Again, how that is to be determined or defined has not been spelled out in the legislation though I know one local operation that plans to use a first come, first served basis should the situation arise. The firm does not recognize Veterans Day as one of its paid holidays but is allowing veterans to take Veterans Day off either as a paid vacation day or unpaid time off - unless any of the aforementioned situations arise.)
Veterans have until Oct. 11 to make their written request to their employer for the day off.