On April 4, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (seated) signed into law Act 598, the Voluntary Veterans Preference Act. This new law provides private-sector employers in Arkansas the ability to implement a veterans’ preference practice in the hiring process on a voluntary basis. The Government Affairs Team of Arkansas SHRM (ARSHRM) worked tirelessly for the bill’s introduction and passage through the legislature. Similar legislation was advanced by Washington State SHRM and enacted into law in 2011.
(From left are Steve Schulte-ARSHRM co-Govt Affairs Dir., Randy Thurman-ARSHRM Lobbyist, Rep. Sue Scott, Thomas Dunlap-ARSHRM co-Govt Affairs Dir., Michael Ritchey-Little Rock area VFW Commander, Kelly DeStefano-ARSHRM President, and Cpl. Aaron Mankin-USMC.)
The proposal, developed with direct input by ARSHRM, allows private-sector employers on a voluntary basis to exercise a veterans’ preference in hiring with a few key considerations. First, the statutory language is clear that the preference must be applied between equally qualified candidates and that the employer must have a written preference policy. Second, to determine eligibility and be consistent, the definition of “veteran” matches that of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, with the inclusion of spouses of deceased and totally disabled veterans. Third, ARSHRM wanted the eventual law to be easy for employers to administer, so the statute does not require employers to establish a point system, ranking structure or record-keeping process.
To read more about how ARSHRM went about developing the concept for the legislation and how it advocated for its enactment into law, click HERE to read the April 2013 ARSHRM Legislative Report by Thomas Dunlap, PHR (center behind Governor Beebe).