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Preferential employment rules benefit veterans at local, federal level

By Sun Advocate

With employment opportunities limited in Carbon County, across Utah and throughout the United States, job seekers are trying to find special edges in the quest to secure work.
Special edges may include completing additional education or training and acquiring jobs skills.
Some applicants, particularly for state and federal government positions, qualify for an employment edge because they are veterans of one of the branches of the U.S. military service.
Veteran’s preference in government employment is not just a policy that has spread through the public service sector, but is the law in many states and at the federal level.
But some Americans view the policy as an unfair practice. Opponents feel that serving in the military should not automatically give veterans an edge in the quest to obtain jobs.
On the other end of the spectrum, some Americans think veterans applying for employment should receive preference on all jobs. Proponents of the policy believe veterans should receive the preference benefit for sacrifices made during military service.
Regardless of where Carbon County residents may stand on the subject, government agencies must follow established guidelines when making decisions about hiring veterans.
At the federal level, there are more regulations and laws established for programs available to veterans and the spouses as well as families of former U.S. military personnel.
In addition to the job policy for veterans, two programs focus on employing the spouses and dependents of active duty personnel.
Veterans preference gives special consideration to eligible former military personnel looking for federal employment positions.
However, implementing the policy is frequently a complicated process, especially at the state and local levels as well as in the private employment sector.
At the state level, veterans preference acts vary. In Utah, veterans preference as spelled out in the state code.
Title 71, Chapter 10 of the Utah Code states that “each government entity shall grant a veteran’s preference upon initial hiring to each preference eligible veteran or preference eligible spouse according to the procedures and requirements of” the law.
State statute also specifies the type of allowance that should be added to a veteran’s consideration for a job.
Under the Utah law, the “personnel officers of any government entity shall add to the score of a preference eligible who receives a passing score on an examination or any other rating or ranking mechanism used in selecting an individual” for a position.
The amount added to the evaluation process depends on the status of the veterans and the former military personnel’s spouses.
For a veteran, the personnel officer must add 5 percent to the employment evaluation.
If the person applying for a position is a disabled veteran, 10 percent must be added to the individual’s score.
For spouses, widows or widowers of former military personnel, the increase must equal the percentage that the veteran is or would have been entitled to receive on the employment evaluation.
However, not all jobs require examinations, therefore the employment evaluations may not be based on numeric scores.
In that case, the Utah law states that veterans should be given preference in interviewing and hiring for an employment position.
In connection with the federal employment process, a civil service exam is typically used to evaluate job candidates and points may be added with little difficulty to adjust a veteran’s qualifications.
But in state, county and local employment situations, exams are not administered for every open position.
Therefore, the hiring process for filling state, county and local positions may depend on the results of an applicant’s interview. And that is where problems regarding veterans preference sometimes surface.
How does a committee of interviewers add points to a system that often has no numerical score?
Various non-federal governmental agencies have policies on both scoring for non-numerical evaluations as well as what qualifies people for interviews.
Many use the “best qualified” grouping method. Once a group of applicants have met the basic level of expertise for a job that is advertised, then a committee sorts through the applications and decides on those that are the “best qualified” that have applied. In some cases entities also used a total screening criteria as well, which included various kinds of other factors besides the actual job description needs.
In a lot of these agencies, once the veteran reaches those levels, that is when the preference for veterans kicks in. When candidates are interviewed, if two or three come down to being the best, the veteran is given preference.
Locally Price City’s Human Resource Director Keith Wight says that they just follow the law.
“We use state and federal law to guide us,” he stated. “In fact we have just included that in some new policies that we put together last year.”
At the county level, Dennis Dooley says that they follow Utah State Law.
“The state law is our law,” he told the Sun Advocate. “We follow that in all preference situations. When it comes to the various departments, the department heads use that as their guideline.”
However, the law in the state of Utah is much less detailed in how to give preference for various levels of veteran status. This often brings confusion in giving preference, especially when comparing local agencies with federal ones.

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