10 May What Your Company Needs to Know About Hiring Military Spouses
By Lindsey Germono
This Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I thought I’d provide some thoughts as an employer of military spouses. Over the past four years, I have had the honor and privilege of employing military spouses across the country. I advocate for the advancement of military spouse careers and am determined to focus on providing opportunities to them as part of my mission. I am not alone on this focus and stand by others that work on this as part of their mission as well. I have rattled top leaders within the military community by shattering their view of what a military spouse is, revealing to them what life is really like, regardless of rank. I’ll continue to do that until the military spouse unemployment rate is less than four times the national unemployment rate.
Employers, do not discard resumes at first glance.
When you receive an application or resume and see short periods of work or what may seem like a lot of positions, do not toss that resume aside. Do not assume it’s because the applicant can’t hold a job, or that there was an issue. You will find that military spouses move because of their service member’s assignment. It is out of their control and it takes a tremendous toll on a spouse to move this often. I have found the most skilled, educated team players in those military spouses I’ve employed. You will find that too if you dig a little deeper in the resume. Compliment your opening with a personality index assessment for candidates to help align them with the position. Ask about their volunteer roles and what goals they achieved within their communities. You will be glad you did this.
It’s not as simple as getting the new hire paperwork completed.
As someone who hires employees, true W2 employees…not 1099 contractors or freelancers, staying compliant within each state is complicated. It involves clarifying which state is the military spouse’s home of record (or home of residency). Often, that state is not where they are physically located. And that information typically presents itself when they choose to provide proof of ID by way of a driver’s license. That license may differ from the state they are completing W4 and i9 paperwork. This is where the heavy lifting comes in and it is not on the employee to do this. It is the responsibility of the employer. Perhaps I’ve made this process entirely way too complicated for myself, but I am a rule follower in my business.
A military spouse doesn’t change their home of record/state of residency because their physical location can change, perhaps every 2-3 years…sometimes more frequently than that. When you pay an employee, you register for state income taxes for their state of residency, then state unemployment tax for the state they are physically located in and performing the work out of.
Example: Joe Smith’s state of residency is West Virginia, but he currently resides in Virginia with his active duty spouse and he works remotely (see what I did here?). Joe will need you to contact the proper divisions in both states. This is a complicated process as most payroll entities do not understand or fail to have a seamless process to ensure you are compliant as an employer. There is no checkbox or line item on these forms to note to the employer that they may have to contact two different states for this employee. Try calling the tax departments at each state and let me know if you get somewhere in less than 2 hours. Also, Dear West Virginia…no one has a fax machine anymore, it’s 2018. Get with it.
As an employer, you do all this because it matters. It matters to your business, but most importantly it matters to the military spouse. You’re having an issue with employee relations, turnover, or finding the right fit? Look into hiring military spouses. You can’t find someone who will position your customers and clients as a priority in their work? Hire a military spouse.
My heart goes into the military spouse community and if I can do one thing today on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, it would be to share my view as a military-friendly business to employers who haven’t yet considered a focus on hiring military spouses. (I’m also hoping whoever helps with tax compliance issues will read this and spend some time educating themselves on the antiquated matters at state levels that pertain to military spouse employment).
To the military spouses out there. Keep at it. I know it’s tough. Reach out to me if you feel stuck, you are not alone. There are so many resources out there for you! Thank you for all that you do.
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