Are you a Federal contractor or subcontractor? Have you been paying attention to the new regulations that are set to go into effect on March 24, 2014? That date will be here sooner than you realize so you had better be prepared.
The new rules
These new rules affect two areas, Section 503, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability; and VEVRAA, which deals with obligations to provide hiring opportunities to veterans. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) requires covered contractors to comply with these new provisions. Covered contractors are those companies that have 50 or more employees and a contract of greater than $50,000. It is not hard to meet that standard. (That is about 5 hammers isn’t it?)
According to a summary of the final rule for Section 503 “The final rule strengthens the affirmative action provisions by, among other things, requiring data collection pertaining to applicants and hires with disabilities, and establishing a utilization goal for individuals with disabilities to assist in measuring the effectiveness of the contractor’s affirmative action efforts.” The major provisions of this include:
- A 7 percent workforce utilization goal for individuals with disabilities.
- Require contractors to invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability at the pre-offer stage of the hiring process, in addition to the existing requirement that contractors invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify after receiving a job offer.
- Require contractors to invite incumbent employees to voluntarily self-identify on a regular basis.
- Require contractors to maintain several quantitative measurements and comparisons for the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and the number of individuals with disabilities they hire in order to create greater accountability for employment decisions and practices.
- Prime contractors must insure that subcontractors comply.
- Revise the definition of ‘disability’ in accordance with the ADAAA.
- New data collection, analysis and tracking requirements for employees with disabilities.
These major provisions will require employers to change forms and methods in order to collect the needed data. The 7 percent utilization of people with disabilities may also be problematic, though with the extended definition of “disability” under the ADAAA that may not be as hard to reach as first thought. The OFCCP does say this is not intended to be a “quota” requirement.
The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) of 1974 has been altered to include a new definition of “protected veteran.” It also provides the following requirements of covered contractors:
- All employers must invite all “applicants” to voluntarily self-identify at the pre-offer stage as a protected veteran (in general terms).
- Employers must invite all “offers” to voluntarily self-identify as a specific category of protected veterans.
- The revision provides new ways to analyze data gathered that will highlight the number of total applicants who are protected veterans, total number of job openings and number of jobs filled, total number of applicants for all jobs, total number of protected vets hired and total number of applicants hired.
- This data has to be maintained for three years. Moreover, there is an 8% hiring benchmark for protected veterans.
- Additionally, all “good faith” efforts need to be documented efficiently.
Just as with Section 503 action is needed in order to meet the deadline of March 24, 2013. (Note: According to the attorneys at Saul Ewing LLC, a lawsuit has been filed in federal court to stop the implementation of these rules.)
Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors Regarding Individuals with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Final Rule