Posted on 07/20/2010 at 01:38 PM by The Newsroom
On April 27, 2010, Governor Chester Culver signed into law House File 2197, a bill giving Iowa veterans the right to take off Veterans Day each year. This Veterans Day Law is now codified in Iowa Code Section 91A.5A. It requires employers to provide each employee who is a veteran (as defined in Iowa Code Section 35.1) with holiday time off for Veterans Day, November 11, if the employee would otherwise be required to work on that day. Employers have the discretion of providing paid or unpaid time off, unless providing time off would impact public health or safety or would cause the employer to experience significant economic or operational disruption (this phrase is not defined in the statute). An employee shall provide the employer with at least one months prior written notice of his or her intent to take time off for Veterans Day. The employee shall also provide the employer with a federal certificate of release or discharge from active duty for purposes of determining the employees eligibility for the time off. The employer shall, at least ten days prior to Veterans Day, notify the employee if he or she will be provided paid or unpaid time off on Veterans Day. If the employer determines that the employer is unable to provide time off for Veterans Day for all employees who request time off, the employer shall deny time off to the minimum number of employees needed by the employer to protect public health and safety or to maintain minimum operational capacity, as applicable. The statute does not articulate how an employer is to determine which veterans should be granted or denied the day off. What does this mean for Iowa employers? Iowa employers obviously must comply with this new law beginning in 2010. Prior to October 11, Iowa employers should determine whether they will provide the time off with pay or without pay so that all employees seeking the time off will be treated similarly. Iowa employers should consult with their employment law attorneys if they believe that providing the time off would impact public safety or cause them to experience significant economic or operational disruption to ensure that any decisions related to how many veterans, and which ones, may be denied the time off are nondiscriminatory.