Recapping the Final Rule
By: Recruiting Specialist
The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) has for the first time since 1970, strengthened Section 503 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is an important step toward reducing barriers to equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The unemployment rate of working age individuals with disabilities and the percentage of working age individuals with disabilities that are not in the labor force remain significantly higher than for those without disabilities. Similar is the story of another job seeker group-the veterans. In 2012, approximately 2.6 million of the nation´s veterans had served during Gulf War-era II. The unemployment rate for this category of veterans was 9.9 percent, compared to nonveterans at 7.9 percent. In this same year, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans age 18 to 24 was 20.0 percent, higher than the rate for nonveterans of the same age group (16.4 percent). In response to this data and the issues facing our returning veterans looking for employment, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) revised The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). The new VEVRAA regulations’ goals mandate strengthening of contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination responsibilities and address the barriers veterans face upon returning to civilian workforce.Highlights of the New Rules
- Utilization goal: The Final Rule establishes a nationwide 7% utilization goal for qualified Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs). Contractors will apply the goal to each of their job groups or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees. Contractors must conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems
- Hiring benchmarks: The Final Rule requires that contractors establish annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans. Contractors may choose to establish a benchmark equal to the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force, which will be published and updated annually by OFCCP (currently 7.2%). Alternatively, contractors may establish their own benchmarks using certain data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service/Employment and Training Administration (VETS/ETA) that will be also be published by OFCCP, as well other factors that reflect the contractor’s unique hiring circumstances.
- Data collection: The Final Rule requires that contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of IWDs and veterans who apply for jobs and the number of IWDs and veterans they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. This data must be maintained for three years so as to spot trends.
- Invitation to Self-Identify: The Final Rule requires that contractors invite applicants to self-identify as IWDs and or/ protected veterans at both the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process, using language prescribed by OFCCP. The Final Rule also requires that contractors invite their employees to self-identify as IWDs every five years, using the prescribed language. There are sample invitations to self-identify available that contractors may use.
- Incorporation of the EO Clause: The Final Rule requires that specific language be used when incorporating the equal opportunity clause into a subcontract by reference.
- Records Access: The Final Rule clarifies that contractors must allow OFCCP to review documents related to a compliance check or focused review, either on-site or off-site, at OFCCP’s option. In addition, the Final Rule requires contractors, upon request, to inform OFCCP of all formats in which it maintains its records and provide them to OFCCP in whichever of those formats OFCCP requests.
- ADAAA: The Final Rule implements changes necessitated by the passage of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 by revising the definition of “disability” and certain nondiscrimination provisions of the regulations.
- Job Listings: The Final Rule clarifies that when listing their job openings, contractors must provide that information in a manner and format permitted by the appropriate State or local job service, so that it can access and use the information to make the job listings available to job seekers.
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