WASHINGTON (WAVY) — The Military Spouses Hiring Act is the new bill that aims to encourage businesses to hire military spouses.

Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) introduced the bill which highlights how military spouses often face hiring barriers.

“Although 45% of military spouses hold bachelor’s or advanced degrees, job offers are often elusive and career progression can stall,” the bill said.

Kaine and Boozman are working to combat this issue by pushing that employers receive a tax credit for hiring military spouses.

The bill would allow military spouses to be added as an eligible group under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers who invest in American job seekers who have consistently faced barriers to employment.

U.S. Department of Labor

“It will give a reason for an employeer to look at a military spouse and say, ‘okay, you have significant value you bring to the organization. But in addition to that, this tax credit is an incentive that might encourage us to hire you,” Kaine said.

According to the Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce, military spouses are among the highest rate of unemployed people. The chamber’s data shows military spouses made up 22% of the unemployment rate in 2021.

Research by Hiring Our Heroes shows that 88% of military spouses who took a survey say the military impacts their ability to find a job and their experience or educational level. The research also says 90% of survey participants said military service negatively affects their careers.

Kaine said this bill keeps in mind how often military members and their spouses move, and that military spouses are often left to take care of the home when their partner is deployed.

“There are other barriers to military spouses. They often have a credential or a license, [like a] real estate broker, cosmetologist, attorney, physician, nurse. And that license doesn’t automatically transfer to a new state when they move and so that puts barriers in their way as well,” Kaine said.

Kaine said since the bill has bi-partisan support, he is confident it will get approved this year.

Hiring Our Heroes has recommendations for employeers and policy maker for military spouse hiring:

  • Explore ways to ensure that military spouses are not penalized by vesting requirements when they quit a job as a result of a military-related move.
  • Examine partnerships between private and public sector organizations to create career pathways for military spouses, with a special focus on training, internships, and entrepreneurial opportunities that offer a competitive salary.
  • Focus on workplace flexibility for military spouses, to include remote and portable work opportunities, to meet the transitory nature of military life.
  • Promote available free financial education and financial planning services to help military spouses understand the importance of saving for retirement, creating a retirement savings plan, and reaching their retirement goals.

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