Illinois employers can now give preference to veterans when hiring new employees under the newly enacted Veterans Preference in Private Employment Act, which Governor Rauner signed into law on July 28, 2015. The new Illinois law permits private employers to voluntarily adopt hiring policies that give preference to job applicants who served in the military, on active or reserve duty, including the Illinois National Guard. The hiring preference policies must be in writing and posted at the workplace or on the employer’s website, as well as on job applications. A similar Illinois law has already been enacted for public employers.

It should be noted that the veterans hiring preference is not mandatory; it is an optional, voluntary program, permitted by law. If an employer adopts a veterans hiring preference policy, the employer should be careful to apply the policy evenly, without regard to any protected characteristic, as with any employment policy. The employer should also be sure to comply with the statutory publishing requirements for the policy.