Happy New Year! Maybe Not So Happy if You Are A Federal Contractor - Preparing for 2016

By: Grace Conti, PMP

Happy New Year! Maybe Not So Happy if You Are A Federal Contractor - Preparing for 2016

Since most federal contractors have an affirmative action plan (AAP) year that runs January to December, you are probably getting ready to update your AAP. All of the most recent regulatory changes have either taken effect or become effective in January of 2016. This includes the January 1, 2016 increase in the minimum wage to $10.15. As a result of these changes, 2016 will be a far more challenging year for updating your plan and defending yourself in an audit.

For those of us who have been working on affirmative action compliance (for me, its 23 years and counting!) the days where updating your AAP meant running the personnel data, updating the narratives and putting the plan on the shelf are gone.

Although this article cannot cover all of the "To Dos" as you update your AAP, below is a checklist of some of the critical items that should be reviewed. (Check with a subject matter specialist to assure full compliance.)

  • Have you analyzed whether your outreach efforts were effective in generating applicants who self-identified as Protected Veterans? Were you successful in reaching the hiring benchmark of 7% for Protected Veterans in 2015? If not, you must seek other organizations and establish a relationship that will assist you in reaching a pool of qualified veterans and the hiring benchmark in 2016.
  • Have you analyzed whether your outreach efforts were effective in generating applicants who self-identified as an Individual with Disability (IWD)? If not, you must seek alternate organizations and establish a relationship that will assist you in reaching a pool of qualified IWD in 2016.
  • Have you updated your policies, handbook and covered contracts to reflect "gender identity and sexual orientation" as per Executive Order 13672 (non-discrimination for LGBT)?
  • When was the last time you reviewed your job descriptions to assure that they do not contain physical or mental qualifications that are not an absolute job requirement or business necessity for the position? The new OFCCP scheduling letter requires you to state when this review was last completed and when is the next time you will be doing this.
  • Have you checked your website Careers page recently? Does it contain the language that addresses how a job seeker can request an accommodation, if needed, to apply to an open position?
  • Is the new "EEO is the Law" poster accessible to applicants and employees? While the current poster is still under revision, contractors may use the existing poster. OFCCP has a supplement or insert for contractors to use, along with the current poster, which includes information about the new pay transparency requirements, as well as the new LGBT protection and revised Section 503 and VEVRAA. This just recently released supplement may be found at this link: http://www1.eeoc.gov/employers/upload/eeoc_gina_supplement.pdf. Reminder: contractors must disseminate the nondiscrimination provision by either electronic posting or by posting a copy of the provision in conspicuous places available to employees and applicants for employment.
  • Are you ready to implement the Pay Transparency (Executive Order 13665)? This final rule is effective for contracts or subcontracts of over $10,000 entered into or modified after January 11, 2016. Contractors must update existing employee handbooks and manuals or policies to incorporate a non-discrimination statement regarding these new requirements and also must distribute this information, either electronically or as a hard copy posting, in conspicuous places at work sites, to applicants and employees.
  • As per Executive Order 13665, you should determine which jobs work directly with compensation as an "essential function" of the job. The job duties of these employees should include statements that they are involved with confidential information and as such they must protect and maintain the privacy of personnel records. This may also be a good time to review how you store, protect and dispose of confidential information including compensation.
  • The Pay Transparency language must also be included in covered federal contracts and subcontracts and purchase orders entered into or modified on or after January 11, 2016. If your purchase orders or contracts include all the language in the EO 11246 EO Clause, then they must be updated to include the additional provision or they may be incorporated by clause by citing 41 CFR 60-1.4.

There is no doubt that for federal contractors and subcontractors the increase in compliance requirements has been substantial. Being pro-active is essential! If you have not conducted training for your recruiters, managers, supervisors and HR team in the last year, this important training should be on your agenda for 2016. Training for your team should incorporate not only updating and reviewing the new regulations but also how to apply the company policies and procedures to workplace situations. This training can greatly diminish a company's liability not only during an OFCCP audit but also EEO charges and litigation. Working with an HR Professional subject-matter expert is prudent to assure that you have not missed important changes or updates. Happy New Year and good luck to all!

Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates, Inc. (PMP) is proud to be celebrating 51 years as a full-service Human Resources & Labor Relations consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. Grace Conti joined PMP in 1993 as an HR/Labor and Employment Consultant and was named Executive Vice President in 2001. Ms. Conti is best known for her expertise in Affirmative Action rules and regulations. Often called the "Affirmative Action guru" by her clients, she is proud of her exceptional record of successfully closed OFCCP audits. She holds AAP training workshops throughout the country and conducts mock OFCCP audits for clients along with assisting clients in implementing practical, cost-effective solutions to their compliance needs. Grace was again recently elected Co-Chair of the Long Island Industry Liaison Group, which is a local chapter of a national organization of federal contractors.

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