Inspired by PG&E’s Support of Veteran Hiring, HIRE Vets Act Becomes Law

by Tony Khing

The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017, inspired by PG&E’s long-standing support of employing and retaining veterans, was signed into law by President Trump on May 5.

Known as the HIRE Vets Act, the legislation, sponsored by Congressman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), a retired Marine Col., establishes a national certification standard that gives employers a benchmark for measuring their progress in veteran hiring against other companies.

“This is a big win for veterans and the companies and unions who are truly making an effort to attract and hire more veterans. We’ll be able to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment. This bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices,” said Cook.

“As a nation, we need to make sure that those who’ve proudly served our country have access to career opportunities when returning to civilian life. The HIRE Vets Act will encourage companies to hire more men and women who’ve proudly served our country and recognize those who’ve provided them with a supportive work environment,” said PG&E’s John Simon, executive vice president and general counsel.

“Companies like PG&E, who provide careers to our military veterans and who’ve honorably served our country, should be recognized by the Department of Labor. Veterans are a great fit for our company and our union. Their dedication to service, work ethic, and understanding of safety make them perfect candidates for providing energy service to the 16 million Californians we serve,” said Bob Dean, assistant business manager for IBEW Local 1245 and a Navy veteran.

The HIRE Vets Act calls for two levels of annual awards that will be given to companies with 500 or more employees. The awards and the criteria are:

Gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award

  • Veterans hiring in a calendar year isn’t less than seven percent of all employees hired;
  • At least 75 percent of veterans hired in the previous calendar year have been retained for at least 12 months from the date of hire;
  • The employer has an employee veteran association or employee resource group which assists veteran employees upon entering the company;
  • The employer has programs which enhance leadership skills for veteran employees.

Platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award

  • Veterans hiring in a calendar year isn’t less than 10 percent of all employees hired;
  • At least 85 percent of veterans hired in the previous calendar year have been retained for at least 12 months from the date of hire;
  • The employer has human resources professionals who support hiring, retention and training of veterans;
  • The employer compensates employees serving in the U.S. National Guard or Reserve at a combined level equal to their monthly civilian salary;
  • The employer has a tuition assistance program for veterans interested in taking postsecondary education.

Awards will also be given to small- and medium-sized companies.

PG&E’s endorsement of veterans dates back to World War I. The company has a strong commitment to veterans, as evidenced by its “1,000 Careers Project,” a long-term program with the goal of hiring 1,000 veterans into PG&E careers over the next eight years. Since the program’s inception, PG&E has hired 455 veterans — close to half of its goal in nearly two years.

In addition, the company’s PowerPathway training program, aimed at developing the next generation of the utility workforce, has graduated 850 students — including nearly 500 veterans. Among PowerPathway’s accomplishments over the last two years: creating a new program with transitioning military personnel, employing its first active service member who participated in the program and its first direct-to-hire class for customer service representatives.

PG&E’s also has a Veterans Employee Resource Group, formed in 2011 to help educate, support and develop company employees with military experience, as well as their supporters. More than 1,100 employees have joined the group.

Article originally posted on PG&E Currents.

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